Hilton Head Island Airport announced Friday that American Airlines will begin offering nonstop service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport starting March 7, according to a news release.
The flights will be seasonal, but the airport has not announced when they end.
“Hilton Head is an important market with so much to offer — from beautiful beaches to championship golf courses,” Jason Reisinger, American Airlines network planning director, said in a news release. “These new flights will make it even easier for customers throughout the world to access all of the wonderful activities on Hilton Head Island.”
The announcement comes after a 236 percent increase in passengers in 2019, according to previous reporting by The Island Packet.
American Airlines currently operates flights from Hilton Head to Charlotte and seasonal service to Washington, D.C.
The influx of flights and people using the on-island airport comes after a year of massive expansion. In July 2018, the airport finished a 700-foot runway extension to accommodate larger jets.
The larger jets came running.
In 2018, United Airlines announced it would begin flying nonstop seasonally between Hilton Head Island and Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York.
Shortly after the United announcement, Delta Air Lines hopped on board and announced it would add seasonal flights from Hilton Head Island to New York and Atlanta.
American Airlines, once the only air carrier on Hilton Head Island, announced more direct flights later that year.
“The growth we’re seeing at the airport goes to show how necessary these new flights were,” Beaufort County Airports Director Jon Rembold said in a news release in summer 2019. “In the past, passengers had to often fly into an airport outside of the county and then drive.
“Our new service options on American, United and Delta allow passengers to fly into or out of Hilton Head Island Airport and truly start their vacation upon arriving.”
A growing airport’s effects on community
In May, four businesses on the west side of the airport were put on notice that they may be relocated to make way for a new airport terminal. Beaufort County is surveying the properties on Hunter Road and told owners that the county would buy the property and pay for relocation costs if necessary.
The potential Hunter Road acquisitions join a growing list of airport-related changes on the north end of the island.
In February, Hilton Head Island Town Council began discussions in closed session about purchasing St. James Baptist Church and the Old Cherry Hill School north of the airport.
Representatives of the church have been part of those negotiations, which include relocating the school building and moving the church to a building nearby, the now late Rev. Charles Hamilton of the church told The Island Packet in March.
Moving the buildings will clear people from the object-free zone of the newly expanded runway. The church was first built in 1886; the school was built in 1937.