MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach International Airport is embarking on a $70 million expansion project to accommodate the growth.

Myrtle Beach International Airport has seen a rise in passengers since the start of the pandemic two years ago. Airport officials said they do not see the momentum slowing down anytime soon. 

“The pandemic drastically changed the aviation industry as a whole,” said Ryan Betcher, airport spokesperson. “The 2021 year really showed us that there was this incredible growth, this incredible need for leisure travel in Myrtle Beach.”

More than $60 million of the budget will go towards expanding Concourse A. The expansion will include five to six more gates and additional seating for travelers. 

Four additional lanes will be added to the Transportation Security Administration screening checkpoint an increased number of ticket counters.

“We’re just hoping that it’s going to drastically improve the efficiency of the checkpoint and getting customers through quickly,” Betcher said. 

Construction on Concourse A is expected to break ground in the next two to three years. 

An expansion project with a budget of more than $20 million is already underway at the airport’s rental car facility. 

Rental car sales account for the largest portion of the airport’s revenue, and the project hopes to make the rental car experience more efficient. 

The project is in two phases. Phase one consists of adding shaded canopies to the rental car lot. 

“One of the areas that we really saw that could be an improvement is our ready return lot, where customers are returning and picking up vehicles,” Betcher said. “The covered parking area will create shade for the vehicles and also protect the vehicles and our customers from inclement weather.”

Phase two consists of expanding the lot’s overall capacity and adding outdoor customer service kiosks. 

Phase one will be completed in the coming weeks. The entire rental car facility project is projected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend 2023. 

Betcher said the airport expansion project will serve as a launching pad for offering more travel to and from Myrtle Beach. 

“It’s going to give us more opportunities to welcome more traffic to the airport during the peak travel days that our visitors or our locals are looking to fly in and out of the airport,” Betcher said. 

Myrtle Beach International is one of 20 South Carolina airports set to receive a share of nearly $19 million in federal grants to help pay for a variety of upgrades. Myrtle Beach International will get $2.2 million to remove a taxiway and rebuild it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.