By DAN HEATH and JOE LoTEMPLIO
PLATTSBURGH — Allegiant plans to offer non-stop air service between Burlington and Orlando, raising concerns that Plattsburgh service could be impacted.
The airline plans to start service Feb. 19 with two flights per week.
Allegiant already offers two flights a week each way between Plattsburgh International Airport and Orlando.
LOWER PARKING COST
Clinton County Legislator Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who heads the county’s Airport Committee, said the move could lower the number of people flying out of Plattsburgh.
“But we will get through this,” he said. “But I can’t understand why Allegiant is going into competition with itself. It makes no sense.”
Heins said he thinks many people will still choose to fly to Orlando out of Plattsburgh because parking fees here are $5 per day for short term and $7 per day for long term, while Burlington charges $12 per day for all vehicles.
“We’ve never considered ourselves to be in competition with Burlington because we have a different model, but we’d rather they (Allegiant) didn’t do this,” he said.
“It’s like giving Goliath another shield to beat up David.”
Another factor that could help Plattsburgh is that the driving distance between this city and Montreal is 63 miles, while Montreal to Burlington measures 93 miles.
The county recently decided to undertake a $54 million expansion of the airport to handle the large crowds that have been showing up since it opened in 2007.
Heins said Allegiant’s decision will not affect the expansion plans.
“We feel we will still have enough business for our model, but we might have to be careful about some things,” he said.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas put a different spin on the development, saying he doesn’t think Burlington service is a threat to Allegiant’s service from Plattsburgh.
It’s actually a reflection of how huge the Plattsburgh/Montreal market is, he said, which has led Allegiant to a calculation that it can pick up additional passengers from Vermont on top of continued growth in Plattsburgh.
“They believe they can attract new passengers for limited service out of Burlington from the east, including eastern Quebec but also the many people in Vermont and New Hampshire who are now going down to Manchester to fly Southwest,” Douglas said by email.
“For Burlington, it’s a chance to help stem its falling numbers and replace the Florida business previously provided by JetBlue and Air Tran, which couldn’t compete with Allegiant and Spirit in Plattsburgh.
“We will see if it works out, but we can expect only continued growth here, including new opportunities under discussion with Allegiant and others that will be facilitated by the planned terminal expansion,” Douglas said.
“We are now firmly established as Montreal’s U.S. airport.”
Allegiant President Andrew Levy said the company was pleased to bring a new, affordable and convenient travel option to the residents of the Burlington area.
“We are confident the Burlington community will appreciate the convenience of flying nonstop to Orlando for less and the value of bundling their air, hotel and car-rental reservation together at Allegiant.com,” he said in a press release.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said he appreciates the confidence that Allegiant has demonstrated in Burlington and the airport there.
“The return of nonstop service between Burlington and Florida represents the achievement of Burlington International Airport’s top air-service enhancement goal and is yet another indication that the airport under the leadership of Aviation Director Gene Richards and his team is headed along the right path,” he said.
Email Dan Heath:email@example.com