Allegiant Air is making Pittsburgh a base of operations
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It won t arrive in time for Mardi Gras but Allegiant Air is giving Pittsburgh-area travelers reason to celebrate: A new nonstop flight to New Orleans.
Allegiant will start twice-weekly service to the Crescent City from Pittsburgh International Airport on Feb. 19. The airline, which is expanding rapidly in Pittsburgh, also is adding a new seasonal flight to Palm Beach, Fla. and expanding its seasonal service to Myrtle Beach.
Since touching down in Pittsburgh last February with flights to three Florida cities, the Las Vegas-based airline has added four others, counting the two new ones to be formally announced today.
It also will make Pittsburgh a base of operations next month, a distinction that will bring with it up to 40 jobs and a permanently-based 156-seat Airbus 319 aircraft.
With the new flights, Allegiant will become the airport s fourth largest carrier in terms of destinations behind Southwest, American and Delta.
Pittsburgh travelers have been pretty enthusiastic about us. We really saw an opening for ultra low-cost service, which Pittsburgh hasn t previously had. The response that we ve seen has been overwhelmingly positive, Allegiant spokesman Justin Ralenkotter said.
Pittsburgh has been without a nonstop flight to New Orleans for 10 years. For at least the last two years, the airport has been offering incentives such as landing fee waivers and increased marketing support to carriers willing to commit to nonstop flights to desired destinations.
In conjunction with that, Allegiant will not have to pay gate or landing fees for the New Orleans and Palm Beach flights for a year.
The twice-weekly New Orleans service will fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Fares will start as low as $39 one way.
Seasonal twice-weekly service to Palm Beach International Airport also will begin Feb. 19 with fares as low as $39 and operate through May 16. Allegiant will be competing on that route with Southwest Airlines, which will be offering a Saturday-only nonstop to the same airport from March 12 through April 9.
We re really not competing for the same passengers as other carriers. We see ourselves as complementing or adding more choice to travel, Mr. Ralenkotter said.
Allegiant will be starting its seasonal twice weekly service to Myrtle Beach April 7 next year, two months earlier than this year.
Mr. Ralenkotter said the route has performed exceptionally well for us. The airline aims for planes that are at least 90 percent full, and the Myrtle Beach flight has exceeded those expectations, he noted.
He added there is no hard or fast rule how quickly the airline expands in a city. Cincinnati, which like Pittsburgh has lost an airline hub, currently has Allegiant flights to 11 cities. Indianapolis has flights to seven destinations.
Pittsburgh has done very well for us. We ve been very pleased with the results that we ve seen from the market there and how people have taken to our service in booking those flights, he said.
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