Allegiant to begin low-cost flights at Falls airportby Olivia
Another low-cost airline is testing the waters at Niagara Falls International Airport with flights to sun and sand in Florida.
Allegiant Travel Company announced Tuesday that it will offer nonstop travel between Niagara Falls and the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, beginning Dec. 15.
Local officials already are lobbying for Allegiant to consider adding flights out west in the future.
"Allegiant is actually headquartered in Las Vegas," said longtime Falls airport supporter State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane. "Everybody always says Florida, Florida, Florida. ... It just seems to me if we can get them here. ... We have a first-rate facility."
"That could be a possibility if this community embraces our services," said Allegiant's Public Relations Manager Kristine Shattuck-Cooper, who was at the airport to announce the Florida flights.
She said the company would need some larger planes to consider any longer flights out west. However, it already has one 757 jet and has more on order.
William Vanecek, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority director of aviation, said more flights west are one of his company's "big mantras" for either the Buffalo or the Niagara Falls airport. Currently, only flights to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Chicago are available nonstop out of Buffalo.
"We're trying to get that first airline to make the leap. Once it happens, they'll be very happy with it," he predicted.
Meanwhile, Allegiant is in town and preparing to provide service on 150-seat MD-80 jet aircraft to the coastal area west of Tampa via the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
The planned Sunday and Thursday flights will have introductory fares as low as $79.99 one way if purchased by Oct. 20 for travel between Dec. 15, 2011, and Feb. 14, 2012.
"Our studies show this is going to be a viable market for us," Cooper said.
"We are pleased to bring an affordable and convenient way for the Niagara and southern Ontario areas to travel to Tampa Bay," Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant president, said. "We are confident the Niagara Falls community will appreciate the value of flying nonstop to the Tampa Bay area and the great deals we offer on hotels and car rentals."
"With this addition, Allegiant will now offer non-stop low-fare service to 23 destinations to/from our airport," said Noah Lagos, A.A.E., airport director of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
Assemblyman John Ceretto, R, I-Lewiston, called the addition of Allegiant "an important economic boost to our hometown airport" "that will make the region a more attractive place for businesses looking to set up operations locally, which will lead to new employment opportunities for local residents."
Currently, Niagara Falls International Airport has Direct Air and Spirit airlines offering flights to different Florida airports. Vision Airlines recently announced it no longer would be flying out of Niagara Falls.
Vanecek said Vision is a newer airline compared to the well- established Allegiant and may have been a little premature in its marketing. He predicted that at some point in the future, Vision could end up returning to Niagara Falls.
For more information on Allegiant, go to www.allegiant.com.