By Mark Scheer
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NIAGARA FALLS — There's a renewed spirit at Niagara Falls International Airport.
The low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines announced Thursday plans to move up the start dates for its 2013 seasonal service to and from Myrtle Beach, S.C. at several airports nationwide, including the one in Niagara Falls. As part of the announcement, the company also said it plans to add additional Fort Lauderdale, Fla. flights in the Falls as well.
“We are delighted that Spirit Airlines is resuming its seasonal service to Myrtle Beach earlier than expected and is increasing service to Fort Lauderdale,” said Howard A. Zemsky, chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. “Spirit is a very popular choice with our customers and this additional service will make them even more popular going forward.”
In a release issued by the company, Spirit officials said the company will begin offering two weekly, non-stop flights between Myrtle Beach and the Falls starting Feb. 13, with the service increasing to four weekly flights on April 25.
NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said the company originally planned to resume non-stop flights to Myrtle Beach in April, but has now agreed to start those flights on Feb. 17 instead.
Hartmayer said Spirit's new Myrtle Beach schedule fills part of the void created earlier this year when another low-cost carrier, DirectAir, discontinued flights from the Falls airport to Myrtle Beach after it was forced to enter into bankruptcy proceedings.
"I'm sure they see an opportunity because the Myrtle Beach route was a very nice route for DirectAir," Hartmayer said. "We are very happy that they are starting earlier."
Hartmayer said Spirit currently offers a schedule of three non-stop flights per week to Fort Lauderdale from the Falls and will begin in the spring to increase the number of those flights to seven per week.
"Business is picking up," Hartmayer said of the Falls terminal, which dealt with the loss of DirectAir flights earlier this year. "We're not totally back to where we were before, but we are making very positive strides in getting there."