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Delta begins booking flights to Hilton Head. Airport officials still quiet on ‘expansion’

More direct flights are coming to Hilton Head airport. Here’s where they’ll take you

With Delta Airlines announcing new direct flights from Hilton Head Island, the airport will fly to five cities starting in the spring of 2019. Here's where they'll take you — and how much a flight could cost you.
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With Delta Airlines announcing new direct flights from Hilton Head Island, the airport will fly to five cities starting in the spring of 2019. Here's where they'll take you — and how much a flight could cost you.

Hilton Head Island Airport officials will announce “new offerings and opportunities” for fliers at a news conference Wednesday, a move that could signal the arrival of a new carrier to the facility.

While airport and town officials declined to provide details on the announcement, the Delta Air Lines website on Monday afternoon allowed travelers to book flights between Atlanta and Hilton Head beginning May 23. Delta currently does not offer commercial service to Hilton Head. The website had prices starting at $466.60 roundtrip on that date.

The announcement of the airport press conference came in a news release Monday.

Contacted Monday afternoon, airport media spokesperson Elena Milbrandt said the announcement involved “an expansion.” She declined to provide specifics.

“I can’t tell you any details,” airports director Jon Rembold said when asked Monday afternoon if a new carrier was coming to the island. “It’s good news for the airport and the community.”

Asked if the “expansion” would increase revenue and bring new jobs to the facility, Rembold said, “I hope so.” Asked if it would increase the number of travelers served by the airport, Rembold said, “I would think so.”

Three subsequent calls to Rembold to ask followup questions were not returned Monday afternoon.

When asked Tuesday about whether Delta is beginning service to the airport, Rembold said that “we are not making any comments until the press conference tomorrow... .I’m not going to confirm anything at this point.”

Earns Delta Air Lines
File photo Chris O'Meara AP

Mayor John McCann said he “can’t” give details about what the airport will announce. He said he would speak after Wednesday’s announcement.

When asked about how he would characterize the expansion, McCann said, “I’d characterize it as ‘I’ll talk to you Wednesday.’”

Two subsequent calls to McCann to ask followup questions were not returned Monday afternoon.

A Delta spokesperson did not return a call seeking comment.

The last time the airport held a news conference, on Oct. 15, Rembold announced that United Airlines would begin servicing the airport in spring 2019.

In November, the airport also announced that American Airlines will begin flying directly to Washington, D.C., from the island terminal.

Monday’s announcement came after the airport request for accommodations tax money for 2019 was doubled to $80,000. A-TAX money, sometimes called the tourist tax, is raised from a tax visitors pay on lodging on the island.

McCann doubled — and town council approved — the A-TAX committee’s recommendation on Dec. 18, praising the work of the airport commission.

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When the Hilton Head airport applied for the tax grant for 2019, officials said the grant would be used to bring a new air service to the airport.

“Specifically, ATAX dollars would be used to fund our partnership with Volaire Aviation Consulting, a firm specializing in developing and attracting air service for smaller, niche airports like Hilton Head Island Airport,” according to the airport’s A-TAX grant application, which The Island Packet received through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Town of Hilton Head Island.

Volaire Aviation Consulting has previously worked with airports to bring in new routes, including American Airlines, according to recent posts on Volaire’s Facebook page.

The Hilton Head airport is also in preliminary talks with the town to enhance the airport’s exterior look.

“The project involves a new entrance sign, drive aisle improvements, and landscaping, irrigation and lighting improvements,” according to preapplication materials filed with the town.

Milbrandt said Monday that the upcoming press conference does not involve the planned work on the airport’s exterior.

This story will be updated.

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