Thursday, March 05, 2015

Allegiant’s Duluth-Las Vegas flights end in May

After nine years of providing low-cost flights to major tourist destinations, Allegiant Air has announced that it will pull out of the Duluth market.

The Duluth International Airport was notified Wednesday that the airline will end its twice-weekly flights to Las Vegas on May 18, said Natalie Peterson, the airport’s communications and marketing director.

The airline, which last year ended its flights to and from Phoenix and Orlando, had previously said it would suspend the Las Vegas flights in August.

“We’re certainly saddened to end service in a market we’ve served for so long,” Eric Fletcher, Allegiant’s manager of airports, said in a statement. “We thank the Duluth International Airport for their partnership and the Duluth community for their loyalty over the years.”

Customers who had booked flights beyond May 18 will be contacted by Allegiant and offered a full refund.

The airline’s departure will result in the loss of one full-time and 11 part-time or seasonal jobs in Duluth, Peterson said.

Allegiant did not cite reasons for its departure, but Peterson said the airline has made a push to enter larger markets. Based in Las Vegas, Allegiant has specialized in offering low-fare flights from regional airports to tourist destinations.

“They’ve had a huge growth spurt in the northeast section of the country,” Peterson said. “With all the additional airports that they’ve added, they have not had a large addition to their fleet, so those planes have to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s not inconsistent with what we’re seeing throughout the country.”

Allegiant’s plan to suspend service between Duluth and Las Vegas in August was first reported by the News Tribune on Monday. At the time, airport officials said they expected the service to resume at a later date.

Allegiant entered the Duluth market with direct flights between Duluth and Las Vegas on Jan. 11, 2006. The airline’s passenger numbers continued to grow until 2012, before beginning to slip.

The airline ended its Duluth-Phoenix service in July and its Duluth-Orlando flights in September due to insufficient demand. Both routes had been reduced from year-round to seasonal service before they were eliminated completely.

Peterson said airport officials have been in conversations for more than 18 months with other airlines about bringing service to Las Vegas and other destinations. She said the airport is healthy, reporting four strong years of traffic.

“We’re clearly disappointed to lose service between Duluth and Las Vegas, but are happy that we have both Delta and United operating out of the Duluth International Airport and doing as well as they are,” she said. “There is a lot of good that’s happening up here.”

The loss of Allegiant will leave Duluth with daily flights to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago and Detroit.

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