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Results from First Season with WestJet

On October 4, 2013 in Airport

Conway, South Carolina – On May 2, 2013, WestJet began new twice-weekly, non-stop service between Toronto (YYZ) and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The airline’s first season serving Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) concludes October 23, 2013. 

Over the past several years Porter Airlines has served MYR during the spring and fall season.  WestJet is the first Canadian air carrier to serve the market during Myrtle Beach’s peak summer season.  

Based on passenger numbers, as reported to the airport by WestJet, the airline has flown over 3,200 passengers to the Grand Strand (May through August).  During August 2013, the airline flew more people to the market than any previous month; almost 1,060 passengers or the equivalent - of having 85 of every 100 seats occupied (85 percent load factor).[1]  

“The airport regularly monitors to ensure airfares being offered are reasonably priced.  Our latest evaluation, based on travel between October 10 and October 17, 2013, found that a person wanting to visit Myrtle Beach can fly round trip between YYZ and MYR for as low as $424.29, including all taxes, fees and charges, or less than $0.32 cents per flight mile” said Kirk Lovell, Marketing Director for Horry County Department of Airports.[2]

To obtain air service from WestJet, Horry County entered into a Revenue Guaranty Agreement, ensuring the carrier would receive a 15 percent profit margin on operations directly related to service on WestJet to MYR for a period of 6-months, with a maximum exposure not to exceed $1 million.   Based on internal forecasting by the Horry County Department of Airports (HCDA), it is currently projected that the County will owe WestJet approximately $570,000 under the agreement.  The official tabulation of the amount due WestJet will not be available until late December 2013. 

“Although this first season was not as strong as we had hoped, WestJet did open Myrtle Beach to new markets across Canada,” said Chris Eldridge, Horry County Administrator. “The relationship between MYR, WestJet and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is one that can be used to enhance the diversification of our tourism base and flight services. Horry County is currently exploring alternate means of funding the agreement with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.  Any future financial arrangements will be directly between WestJet and the Chamber.” 

In an attempt to understand passenger trends related to the new service, the airport surveys WestJet’s passengers prior to departing MYR.  The airport has learned that: 

  • 59 percent of passengers flying WestJet have never visited the Grand Strand – first time visitors;
  • 63 percent of first time visitors stayed in the Grand Strand for more than 7 days;
  • 54 percent of first time visitors reported having a household income in excess of $100,000;\
  • Based on MYR surveys conducted on WestJet passengers, it is estimated that first time visitors had a $6.64 million economic impact in Horry County;
  • While visiting in Myrtle Beach first time visitors enjoyed the beach, miniature golf, dining, shopping, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, area amusements and more. 

"Our community has benefited immensely through WestJet's promotion of our destination brand as well as the incremental economic impact, which is substantial,” stated Brad Dean, President & CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “We continue to work with WestJet to optimize their 2013 passenger count and have begun the planning process for what we expect will be even better results in 2014." 

“Despite the slow start we are optimistic WestJet will return for its second season starting May 2014,” said Pat Apone, Interim Director of Airports for Horry County Department of Airports. “While WestJet has not confirmed it will return, we believe the airline will be back as tickets for May 2014 service are now available for purchase at” 

About WestJet  WestJet is Canada's most preferred airline, offering scheduled service to 85 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Powered by an award-winning culture of care, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. Recognized nationally as a top employer, WestJet now has more than 9,000 WestJetters across Canada. Operating a fleet of more than 100 Boeing Next-Generation 737 and Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, WestJet strives to be one of the five most successful international airlines in the world.  

About the Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) The Myrtle Beach International Airport is a full-service facility that serves as the gateway to the Grand Strand. The Myrtle Beach International Airport is owned by Horry County and operated by the Department of Airports. MYR is served by Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, Porter Airlines, Spirit, United Airlines, US Airways and WestJet offering non-stop service to over 25 cities.   

[1] It is important to note that load factor is a capacity indictor, which reports how many seats are occupied during flight.  85 percent load factor is calculated using total reported passengers divided by total seats; stated load is an assumption based on available information. 

[2] Source:; fares pulled Oct 2, 2013, for round trip travel between YYZ – MYR, with travel originated YYZ; YYZ- MYR leg was $310.30 and MYR-YYZ return was $126.75 (“Sale”).