Press-Republican

December 21, 2012

Allegiant sees big Las Vegas lift off

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Allegiant Air service to Las Vegas got off to a flying start Thursday morning.

The inaugural flight from Plattsburgh International Airport had 225 passengers, mainly from across the border.

Sally Sano and Judy Halabi of Montreal were traveling to Las Vegas with a small group of friends. Sano said airfare was the main attraction, as it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than flying from Trudeau Airport in Dorval, Quebec.

Halabi said other factors making Plattsburgh her choice included clearing customs at the border rather than at their destination, low-cost parking and ease of getting to and from the airport.

“It’s much more convenient for us,” she said.

Both said they would fly from Plattsburgh again in the future.

Audrey Dussault of Sherbrooke, Quebec, was also heading out with friends to Las Vegas. This was her first time flying from Plattsburgh International.

A friend had told her about the airport, and she saved a couple hundred dollars compared to a flight from Montreal. It took about two hours to drive to Plattsburgh, about a half hour longer than a trip to Montreal, she said.

But the money saved on airfare and parking more than made up for the extra time, Dussault said.

‘REGIONAL ASSET’

Airport Manager Christopher Krieg said the airport is pulling in travelers not only from the Montreal area but also Quebec City and Ottawa. Those people often spend time in Plattsburgh before or after a flight.

“It’s good for the community and good for the region,” he said. “The airport is a regional asset. People need to understand that.”

The proposed terminal-expansion plan can only help the airport continue to grow, Krieg said.

Also offered from Plattsburgh is PenAir service to Boston, with a one-way ticket priced at between $40 and $50 compared to $250 from Montreal.

Clinton County Legislature Chair Jimmy Langley said no one could have predicted how fast service at the airport would grow. That growth forced expansion of the parking lot three times in the first 18 months of operation, he said.

There is plenty of room for development near the airport, Langley said. Surveys have shown that customers are looking for expansion of services in that area, such as hotels and restaurants.

Langley said if PenAir continues its success, the county would like the company to explore service to Philadelphia.

NONSTOP FLIGHT

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said the airport’s customers, particularly Canadians, have identified Las Vegas as their No. 1 choice for an additional destination. That finally became possible once Allegiant acquired the Boeing 757 aircraft that are capable of making that flight nonstop.

He thanked the many chamber members who contributed to the Take-Off Fund, which raised $5,500 for a marketing-incentive package that made the new service possible.

Las Vegas is Allegiant’s hub airport, and from there, travelers can book additional flights to a wide variety of West Coast destinations, as well as to Hawaii. McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas also serves a variety of other airlines that are now available for additional connections.

Douglas said the new service is also a boon to local businesses, as many attend trade shows and conventions in Las Vegas.

Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett noted 49 passengers flew from Las Vegas to Plattsburgh on the first incoming flight on Thursday. He hopes those numbers will increase in the summer months, as people visit the Adirondack region to escape the summer heat out West.

A KEY MARKET

Allegiant Travel Company President Andrew Levy said the company was pleased to announce another affordable and convenient travel option for residents of the Plattsburgh and Montreal region.

“Our vacation packages and nonstop service to a number of Florida vacation destinations have been very popular with area residents,” he said in a press release. “We are confident these communities now will appreciate our affordable, nonstop service to Las Vegas, as well as take advantage of the value of booking hotel rooms, car rentals and attractions through us.”

“Allegiant is a valuable partner for Las Vegas, and we are pleased to see they have added another nonstop flight from a key market that can generate more visitors to the destination,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Senior Vice President of Marketing Cathy Tull said in the release.

“Since Canada is our No. 1 source of international visitors to Las Vegas, we are enthusiastic about the possibilities this new route offers for convenient travel among Canadian visitors from the nearby Montreal market as well.”

Almost 60,000 people travel to McCarran Airport from Trudeau Airport annually, which demonstrates a proven market from Montreal and its environs, according to Clark County (Nevada) Deputy Director of Aviation Rosemary Vassiliadis.

“This new service (from Plattsburgh) will offer increased travel opportunities for Canadian visitors, as well as others from Vermont and northern New York.”

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com