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Spirit Airlines seasonal service to take off sooner than had been expected

| Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Spirit Airlines said Thursday it will start its seasonal service from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe to Myrtle Beach, S.C., in February, three months earlier than planned.

The discount carrier, which began service to the Unity airport in February 2011, said it will have three weekly nonstop flights from the local airport starting Feb. 14, with service increasing to daily flights on April 24.

By initiating the service in mid-February, the Miramar, Fla.-based airline said it can fly passengers to the South Carolina beach resort for Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend.

Spirit is expanding service at Arnold Palmer Regional in conjunction with moving up the starting dates for seasonal service to Myrtle Beach from Chicago, Detroit, Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Charleston, W.Va.

“We are extremely happy with the news of the expansion of service to Myrtle Beach. This is a grand example of the collaborative effort of Spirit Airlines and the airport in providing the tri-state area with exceptional ultra-low discount service,” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, which manages the airport.

“The availability of affordable transportation into the Myrtle Beach area is crucial to building our tourism economy and enhances our ability to market the area as a year-round, world-class vacation destination,” said Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Spirit has served more than 184,270 passengers at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport since it initiated service to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in February 2011. It added service to Myrtle Beach in May 2011; expanded to Orlando in May; and will add a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth in June 2013.

For the first 10 months of 2012, Spirit flew 120,265 passengers into and out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, according to the airport authority. Two years ago, the airport did not have any commercial carriers.

Spirit's success at the airport has been a driving force in the authority's discussions about building a new terminal that could cost as much as $20 million.

The authority this year expanded airport parking lots and is considering more space for parking. It has acquired properties along Route 981, adjacent to the airport, that would allow for a new entrance off Route 981.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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