Passenger numbers are climbing at Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and airlines are responding to meet the market demand.
The latest is American Airlines, which said Friday it will begin Oct. 6 offering daily direct service from Savannah to Washington-Reagan National. Tickets will go on sale this weekend, according to American spokeswoman Lakesha Brown.
“We currently have weekend service from Savannah to Washington National, but in evaluating that service, we saw the market demand for more flights and have responded,” Brown said.
It was a decision applauded by community leaders in both Savannah and Hilton Head.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with this announcement,” said airport executive director Greg B. Kelly. “The return of daily service to Washington National has been a top priority of ours for the past couple of years.
“When this service begins in October we will be connected directly to all three airports serving Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area,” Kelly said, adding that the service will also give the airport access to another American Airlines hub.
Bill Miles agreed.
“American‘s new non-stop flights to DC are not only a positive for residents and visitors, it speaks volumes about American’s confidence in our destinations,” said Miles, president and CEO of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.
“It also shows the power of partnership,” he said. “Working together with our partners at the Savannah/HHI Airport and Visit Savannah, the positive business momentum continues to grow for the Lowcountry.”
Visit Savannah President Joe Marinelli said the new service will be a boost to leisure and business travelers alike.
“Having regular non-stop service from the Washington, D.C., area is huge for Savannah as it will help us to not only attract a more affluent visitor from that part of the country but it will also be a catalyst for attracting more meetings and conventions,” he said.
“We have seen a huge uptick in convention bookings over the last five years with a majority being from national associations in and around DC, where the many convention planners and decision-makers are based,” he said.
“With this new daily non-stop service, more meeting planning professionals are likely to make the quick trip to Savannah during the site selection process in choosing a destination for their events,” Marinelli said, adding that he expects that to help Savannah attract more conventions and drive visitor traffic to the slower tourism days of the week like Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Passenger traffic growing
Just-released April numbers for Savannah/Hilton Head puts the number of passengers so far in 2016 at 648,197, an increase of 9 percent over the same period last year, while the number of available seats reported for April grew 14 percent year over year.
Savannah’s airport currently offers 45 daily non-stop departures, with several additional weekly nonstop flights and destinations offered seasonally.
Allegiant Air, which offers twice-weekly nonstop flights to six destinations, will add a seventh – Lexington, Ky. – on June 2.
Delta Air Lines continues to boast the lion’s share of the Savannah/Hilton Head market, with 44 percent. American’s market share is 24 percent, JetBlue’s 12 percent, United Airlines’ 15 percent, Allegiant’s 4 percent and Sun Country 1 percent.
AMERICAN’S DCA SCHEDULE (beginning Oct. 6)
• Departs DCA 8:40 a.m., arrives SAV 10:38 a.m.
• Departs SAV 11:05 a.m., arrives DCA 12:43 p.m.
• Departs DCA 8:55 a.m., arrives SAV 10:53 a.m.
• Departs SAV 12:30 p.m., arrives DCA 2:08 p.m
• Departs DCA 8:50 a.m., arrives SAV 10:48 a.m.
• Departs SAV 11:15 a.m., arrives DCA 12:53 p.m.
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