Essential Air Service (EAS) has been in the news frequently the past couple of months, and large airports aren’t the…
Allegiant Air Joins Airlines Expanding Austin Presence
The Allegiant Travel Company and its subsidiary Allegiant Air have announced plans for a base at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This move becomes Allegiant’s latest major announcement during the COVID-19 pandemic where there has been a significant focus on leisure travel. The announcement also comes just weeks after American Airlines announced that it would be significantly increasing its presence at the Central Texas airport.
Allegiant, which operates out of the airport’s South Terminal, will base three Airbus A320 aircraft at the airport and invest roughly $75 million to open its newest base. While the carrier already serves numerous destinations from the capital of Texas, plans are for base operations to begin in mid-November 2021. Allegiant was the original tenant of the South Terminal when it opened in 2017, and has since shared the terminal with fellow ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines.
The Las Vegas-based ultra-low-cost carrier, currently serves a total of 12 destinations from Austin, with that number increasing to 14 by early July with the addition of seasonal flights to Bozeman, Mont., and Fayetteville, Ark. Other destinations served from Austin include Cincinnati, Orlando, and Las Vegas.
Drew Wells, Allegiant Senior VP of Revenue, said, “Austin has been a really exciting location for Allegiant – not only do leisure travelers appreciate having convenient access to the incredible music scene, cultural and historic attractions the community has to offer, but local residents have also flocked to our affordable, nonstop flights for their travel needs.”
A large chunk of the $75 million investment will focus on basing three aircraft in Austin. The airline will also spend money on crew training, materials and tooling, first-year salaries, and some space reconfiguration at the South Terminal. With Allegiant focused on capturing leisure traffic and flying passengers from small and medium-sized cities to vacation destinations, the Austin base will now serve as both a destination and point of origin for local travelers. The airline’s base is expected to create at least 89 jobs for Austinites.
Unlike the majority of U.S. airlines which operate on a hub-and-spoke system, Allegiant flies an “out and back” network where crews originate at a base, do their day of flying and return to base every night. Allegiant builds its schedule around vacationers’ travel patterns, so Thursday/Friday and Sunday/Monday are busier days schedule-wise, while Tuesdays tend to be lighter days.
A spokesperson for Allegiant told AirlineGeeks, “Having based operations allows us to start with earlier flight times, and stretches our network where we can potentially serve destinations from Austin that we were unable to serve previously. We definitely see the potential to grow our service in Austin in the future.”
Allegiant began operating at Austin in October 2013. Since then, over 1.1 million people have flown with Allegiant through Austin. Between May 1 and Sept. 1, 2021, Allegiant is expected to be the second-largest ultra-low-cost carrier in Austin with just over 73,000 seats being offered in the market according to Cirium. During the same time frame, Spirit Airlines will offer about 205,000 seats and Frontier will offer 57,000 seats.
Austin City Council Member, Vanessa Fuentes, said, “The announcement of Allegiant’s selection of Austin as a base city is just the kind of news our community and the tourism industry needs right now. The potential for added flights will bring more travelers into the area and offer Central Texans extra options when it comes to their own travel plans.”
The opening of a new base for Allegiant is a relatively big deal due because the airline invests and spreads its resources out across numerous different geographical locations. Carriers such as Ryanair and Wizz Air in Europe utilize a base system, allowing for more coverage for their respective, ultra-low-cost, leisure-based route networks.
Allegiant’s Austin base represents the first in Texas. Florida has the most Allegiant bases with six currently in operation. The airline is expected to face stiff competition from other low-cost and legacy airlines that have recently reinforced and expanded their Austin operations. Austin has seen a string of new destinations announced over the past few months with at least 17 routes beginning onboard five different airlines by July 2021.
AirlineGeeks’ Mateen Kontoravdis contributed to this report.
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