Saturday, August 26, 2017

Vienna, Trumbull County, Ohio: Local travelers, airport have supported Allegiant Airlines

VIENNA — Local officials say Mahoning Valley residents and Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport employees have been very supportive of Allegiant Airlines during the 11 years it has offered flights going to and from vacation locations in Florida.

Western Reserve Port Authority Executive Director John Moliterno said he does not understand why Allegiant would leave the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport because the flights have had an average load factor of 85 percent.

“We do not believe the reason Allegiant is leaving has anything to do with how the airline has been treated by us or the support it has received from passengers,” Moliterno said. “It is a corporate decision.”

Allegiant on Thursday revealed it plans to end service to and from the airport on Jan 4, 2018, because the demand was not high enough to continue it.

“We have enjoyed an excellent partnership with Allegiant over the past decade,” Moliterno said.

“The Port Authority has made substantial investments to update the terminal in Vienna over the last two years, and it is now considered one of the best smaller market air terminals in the nation,” said Dan Dickten, the airport’s aviation director.

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is not the only airport where the airline is ending service. Allegiant also announced it will end services in Casper, Wyo., and Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, Pa.

” Reasoning is the same for these two locations — lack of demand in the area,” said Krysta Levy, a spokeswoman at Allegiant. “Any passengers that have booked travel in or out of Youngstown after that date have been reached out to individually to be refunded or reaccommodated,”.

In the last year, the airline has announced the end of service at the Akron-Canton Airport and has reduced its flights to Hawaii.

While it is reducing flights and ending services at some of its smaller airports, the airline in the last several years added service at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Columbus Rickenbacker Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport.

Moliterno said the airline’s business model appears to have changed from working primarily through smaller airports to mid-size to large airports.

“We are moving on,” Moliterno said. “We already had been talking to other airlines about coming here before we were made aware of Allegiant’s decision. We are talking to some airlines about the possibility of talking this year, instead of waiting until 2018.

“We are working to fill the void,” Moliterno said. “We will use the Allegient model in our efforts to attract other airlines. Our numbers will prove that there was support for Allegiant.”

While the Western Reserve Port Authority will talk to other low-cost airlines, Moliterno emphasized it also will look at luring other types of airlines to the area.

Moliterno said the Port Authority heard the the airline could be leaving last week when an employee of the airline mentioned it during a phone conversation with the airport’s business manger.

“It was too early to make a statement, because we did not have an official notification from the airline,” Moliterno said.

Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka said he unsuccessfully reached out to Allegiant President John Reardon Friday morning after learning the airline would be leaving the Mahoning Valley.

“We made significant improvements at the airport and charged them practically nothing,” Polivka said. “Allegiant is leaving smaller airports and going to larger airports that will have higher costs. I don’t know how this will affect their profits.”

Polivka said Allegiant’s decision is a big blow for area travelers and for the airport.

While agreeing the airport will experience some financial loss when Allegiant leaves, Moliterno emphasized that Allegiant represented only 10 percent of the traffic flying in and out of the airport.

“The airport has corporate, private, the Air Force, and other pilots using it,” Moliterno said. “People know about the commercial flights because that is how they are familiar with the airport.”

Moliterno expressed confidence the airport will attract another commercial airline.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.tribtoday.com

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