Blue-light special at Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach International Airport will lower landing fees and offer other incentives to entice new domestic and international service to the beach. As if the opportunity to shag wasn’t enough.

Landing fees for existing service will be lowered to 5 cents per 1,000 lbs of gross certified maximum landed weight (GCMLW), down 75% from the current fee of $1.97 per 1,000 lbs GCMLW.

Estimated cost savings to airlines is $1.2 million, says Lisa Bourcier, a spokeswoman for airport owner Horry County.

“We can’t sustain this every year but [we’re] willing to see if we can bring in new markets,” she says, adding that landing fees will be evaluated next year and will likely increase, perhaps to 75 cents per 1,000 lbs GCMLW.

For the second year in a row, seasonal landing fees will be waived between December and February to address the challenges of serving a seasonal destination and to encourage year-round service.

The waiver of seasonal landing fees is expected to save airlines $400,000, Bourcier says.

To attract new destinations, Myrtle Beach International will offer carriers the option of being invoiced at a rate of $2 per available seat for common use terminal area fees and security fees in-lieu of the rate formula in the standard service agreement. To be eligible for this option, carriers must maintain existing service at the airport and must operate 50-seat plus aircraft on the new route.

Landing fees and terminal rents will be dropped for new nonstop international service operated with 50-seat plus aircraft.

In light of rising fuel prices and airline plans to reduce capacity system-wide, Bourcier says, “We’ve been doing like every other airport, monitoring current service we have. We have pretty good service. We can always use more. That’s why [we] try to attract new markets and let the ones that served us faithfully know we appreciate them.”

Meanwhile, airport expansion plans have felt an impact. Horry County Council approved the construction of up to 18 additional gates at the airport terminal, which was built in the 1970s.

Phased in construction has been decided upon instead of adding 18 gates at once because of the uncertainty in the airline industry and the economic downturn, Bourcier says.

Design has been narrowed to three schematics and the county council will vote on a final layout in October, she adds.

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