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Alaska, Allegiant Bolster Winter Schedules
Airlines are adding routes to leisure destinations as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to favor vacation rather than business travelers. Two airlines have this week announced new routes focused on serving leisure destinations over the winter. Both Allegiant and Alaska Airlines have announced new routes for travelers seeking both sun and snow this winter. The move comes after United Airlines announced a Florida expansion last week for vacationers.
Allegiant will be adding seven new routes as well as extending an existing seasonal route. From Florida, the airline will be adding three new routes; Punta Gorda to Chicago’s Midway and Houston’s Hobby, and Sarasota to Boston. California will also gain three new routes; Santa Maria to Phoenix-Mesa, and Palm Springs to Boise and Eugene.
Allegiant will also be adding a route between Provo, Utah and Denver, as well as continuing seasonal service between Nashville and Bozeman, Montana. All the new routes will be operated less than daily and are seasonal apart from the Santa Maria to Phoenix-Mesa route. The new routes will begin operating in November, between November 19 and the 21. All of the new flights will be operated twice weekly on the companies Airbus A320 aircraft.
Alaska Airlines will be adding three new routes, all to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Alaska will operate to Jackson Hole seasonally between December and April from Seattle, San Diego, and San Jose. San Diego and Seattle will be operated five times a week, while San Jose will operate twice a week. All flights will be operated on the Embraer 175 aircraft operated by partner SkyWest Airlines.
The new routes follow a trend in the airline industry in response to passenger demand. Business travel still remains almost non-existent, however, leisure travel has made a slight recovery. Travelers are preferring destinations that allow for ample outdoor space such as the beaches of Florida or the national parks in the Western United States. Earlier this month United Airlines announced an expansion of 23 new routes to Florida from destinations across the midwest and the northeast.
For the time being, leisure routes have become the lifeblood for airlines seeking to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. With the end of federal funding on October 1, many small cities that rely on business travel to keep airline service may face cuts. American Airlines has already announced that it will cut 15 cities due to a lack of demand. For some airports, American’s service was their only airline service.
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