Allegiant Sets up Bases at Asheville and Cincinnati

US low-cost leisure specialist, Allegiant Air has revealed it will establish two additional bases with aircraft being stationed at both Regional Airport in North Carolina and Cincinnati’s Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The leisure carrier intends to base three Airbus A319s in Cincinnati from next year to support its rapid growth from Northern Kentucky International Airport further growing the developing low-cost market from the facility, a former Delta Air Lines stronghold. Since the US major downsized its hub, multiple low-cost carriers have entered the market as airport officials have repositioned the airport offer. Now, around one fifth of all passengers are flying on a low-cost carrier.

“As one of Allegiant’s fastest growing markets in their 16 year history, we are thrilled Allegiant is expanding their capacity to establish a base of operation,” said Wm.T. (Bill) Robinson III, chairman, Kenton County Airport.

Allegiant commenced operations in Cincinnati in February 2014 initially with service to two cities in Florida: Orlando Sanford and Punta Gorda. It now links the city with eleven destinations served with over 30 weekly flights and has recently announced a growth to 35 weekly services with additional frequencies to Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas to Savannah/Hilton Head and St Petersburg-Clearwater, to meet growing demand.

“The Greater Cincinnati area has quickly become one of our strongest markets with a demonstrated demand for low-cost vacation travel,” said Jude Bricker, senior vice president of planning, Allegiant Travel Company. “The establishment of an aircraft base at Northern Kentucky International Airport will further increase the efficiency of our operations, while continuing our drive to be Cincinnati’s leading low-fare carrier.”

The new base at Asheville Regional Airport will open from September 1, 2015 will be much smaller with just a single aircraft being stationed at the North Carolina facility. Although no new markets will be introduced with the deployment, it will enable the carrier to better schedule its existing flights to Orlando Sanford, Punta Gorda and St Petersburg-Clearwater.

Allegiant Air has played a key role in the airport’s growth to record passenger levels, having first entered the market in 2011. Over the past three years it has significantly grown its presence and now offers a third of the airline seats. Last year Asheville Regional Airport handled a record number of passengers (756,425), an 11.5 per cent increase compared to 2013, and a 2.3% increase compared to 2010, the previous best year on record.

Allegiant’s low-cost business model has allowed it to grow from one aircraft and one route 16 years ago, to offering access to low-cost, non-stop travel over 100 communities nationwide, more than any other domestic low-cost carrier. The airline operation is complement by the Allegiant Travel proposition that offers holiday packages alongside the flight options.

The carrier has traditionally focused almost exclusively on connecting small and medium-sized cities to its focus airports located mostly in leisure destinations across the United States. However, recent expansion has seen a trend of introducing flights into larger markets and interestingly on shorter flight sectors – its average stage length fell from 912 miles to 896 miles between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015. Over this period flight departures increased 20.3 per cent, while passenger traffic grew 14.9 per cent.

The airline is continuing its recent growth with further network additions for the last quarter of this year. At Memphis International Airport new twice weekly non-stop links to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and St Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport will commence from October 1, 2015, building its network to five destinations.

“We’re very pleased to announce these new flights so soon after launching service to Memphis,” said Jude Bricker, senior vice president of planning, Allegiant Travel Company. “The response to our service from the community has exceeded our expectations.”

Allegiant began flights at Memphis in May this year with links to Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Orlando Sanford International. It will be the sole operator between Memphis and St Petersburg-Clearwater and will bring the return of direct air services between Memphis and Austin, a former Northwest Airlines route inherited by Delta Air Lines which was closed in August last year.

“Allegiant’s decision to quickly add additional air service is a strong validation that Memphis passengers have embraced the Allegiant product,” said Scott Brockman, president and chief executive officer, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. “Airlines are seeing opportunity here, and we look forward to the possibility of continued growth by Allegiant.”

Meanwhile, Allegiant will also boost its offering to Fort Lauderdale, introducing four new routes to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, including one brand new market for the airline. Focusing on leisure travellers, the new flights will bring over 58,000 additional visitors each year to the area, according to the airline.

New twice weekly flights from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, will commence from October 1, 2015; from Akron-Canton, Ohio, from October 2, 2015; and from Rochester, New York from October 9, 2015. A seasonal link from Grand Rapids, Michigan will also start from December 16, 2015 and operate through to April 2016.

“Allegiant is very excited to announce these new flights to Fort Lauderdale, making the vacation destination even more accessible for these four communities,” said Jude Bricker. “We are confident that the addition of our low-cost, convenient service to such a popular South Florida destination will bring even more visitors and economic growth to the area.”

The airline continues a fleet renewal process to support its development with the arrival of additional Airbus short-haul jets into its fleet. Its fleet plan including all aircraft currently under contract will see its fleet grow 14 per cent in 2015, eight per cent in 2016, six per cent in 2017 and 13 per cent in 2018, by which time its Airbus short-haul fleet would have grown to 30 A319s and 14 A320s. These will complement its current 53 McDonnell Douglas MD-80s and six Boeing 757-200s, taking its total fleet above the 100 aircraft figure.

In our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data, we look in closer detail at the main points in the Allegiant Air network in 2015 and how departure capacity compares with the previous year. In total, the carrier’s network capacity will grow by 20.4 per cent between 2014 and 2015. Over the past ten years its network capacity has grown 744.5 per cent from 1.26 million seats in 2005 to over ten million this year, an average annual rise of 74.5 per cent.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…