Press-Republican

August 31, 2007

Las Vegas-based airline expected to start serving Plattsburgh

Allegiant Air expected to fly Plattsburgh to Ft. Lauderdale

By DAN HEATH

PLATTSBURGH -- A Las Vegas-based airline is expected to start serving Plattsburgh International Airport in November.

On Aug. 1, Allegiant Air announced it will begin service Nov. 14 to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport from 12 airports, 11 of which it already serves.

That 12th airport is believed to be Plattsburgh.

Allegiant Air spokesperson Tyri Squyres would say only that the company has been involved in discussions with officials in Plattsburgh.

"We view Plattsburgh's airport to be a very good opportunity for us. It is a big opportunity to provide low-cost service to Florida," she said.

A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday at Plattsburgh International Airport, where a new airline is expected to be officially announced.

CANADIAN MARKET

Squyres said the company's flights from Bellingham, Wash., to Las Vegas have shown that Canadian travelers can be very responsive to low fares and non-stop service to sunny vacation destinations.

Plattsburgh and the 3 million or so residents of the greater Montreal area make this a good market for the airline.

"Plattsburgh is ideally located for Allegiant," Squyres said.

Plattsburgh is also seen as a good opportunity because there isn't another carrier that provides low-cost, non-stop service to vacation destinations operating nearby, she said.

Clinton County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley said Allegiant Air has not confirmed it will serve Plattsburgh.

"Hopefully, they will commit to the North Country. They would be very welcome. They would complement the airport very well. We look forward to their decision."

LOW PRICES

Allegiant Air was founded in 1997, and many of its flights are priced under $100.

The airline will use 150-passenger MD-83 jet aircraft for its flights to Fort Lauderdale, which, like all its flights, will be non-stop.

Allegiant Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Allegiant Travel Company.

Allegiant Air already flies to more than 50 markets in the United States. It has 42 routes to Las Vegas, 26 to Orlando and 14 to the Tampa Bay area.

It plans to begin offering service from 13 airports it already serves to Mesa, Ariz., on Oct. 25.

The press release that announced the service to Fort Lauderdale and Mesa states Allegiant Travel offers complete, low-cost vacation packages. Those packages include golf, theme-park and entertainment packages.

Allegiant already partners with premier hotels in South Florida and Arizona.

The company's preliminary traffic result for July 2007 shows it had 315,149 scheduled flight passengers, a 62-percent increase from July 2006. Its statistics show 91.1 percent of available seats were filled in July, up from 86.9 percent last year.

The airline offers charter services throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. It also offers Alamo rental-car packages in select markets.

Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are available on all flights. For a nominal fee, travelers can select a seat assignment at the time of reservation or check-in, which also results in priority boarding of the flight.

OTHER AIRLINES

In July, Montana-based Big Sky Airlines said it was bidding on a U.S. Department of Transportation Essential Air Services contract to provide Delta Connection flights to Boston from Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake and Rutland, Vt.

That contract is currently held by CommutAir, which offers Continental Connection flights from Plattsburgh and Saranac Lake.

CommutAir filed to terminate that contract in May, but must offer flights until a replacement carrier comes on board.

Also, Myrtle Beach International Airport is awaiting word on a $625,000 grant application under the Department of Transportation's Small Community Air Service Development Program. That would fund three new routes to be served by Myrtle Beach Direct, including Plattsburgh. Flights would take passengers direct to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and back.

dheath@pressepublican.com