That sound overhead? It’s the sound of economic development

Southwest Airlines touches down on its inaugural flight to the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport on March 11. SAV now offers direct flights to 30 destinations on 10 air carriers. Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH) offers 10 non-stop flights through three carriers. 

For some cities, economic development is measured in warehouses and factories. In the Lowcountry, it’s measured in wings and wheels. Air-service development has grown tremendously in the Lowcountry, and it’s brought not only more passengers but more economic opportunities.

The latest air-service development comes as American Airlines takes off this spring directly to Boston from the Hilton Head Airport. Southwest, an airline courted for decades, launched non-stop service to not one, but five destinations from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. That courtship happens via a partnership with airport leadership and the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce—organizations that work hard to land new flight options for the region.

The Lowcountry has seen accommodation tax collections – a bellwether for the tourism industry – on Hilton Head Island grow annually from $12 million in 2013 to $18.1 million in 2019. “People often think about air-service development as something that’s just for visitors, but convenient air service works both ways,” said Bill Miles, president and CEO of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a benefit for residents, it’s a strong promoter for business, and it plays an important role in our overall quality of life.”

The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport now offers direct flights to 30 destinations on 10 air carriers. The Hilton Head Island Airport is home to three different carriers and 10 destination flights, with non-stop service to cities including New York and Washington, D.C. The Hilton Head Island Airport is expanding and renovating its terminal—a $40 million project with construction expected to begin this spring.

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