Allegiant grounds Wednesday flights to Vegas

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Jan. 06--Three leisure flights a week between Bakersfield and Las Vegas is apparently one too many -- for now, anyway.

A spokeswoman for Allegiant Air confirmed Wednesday that, starting Feb. 20, the airline will cease mid-week service to and from Las Vegas, leaving only Friday and Sunday flights.

"Basically, we're matching our schedule to meet demand," spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo said. "Wednesday's not a popular day for (leisure) travel."

Since low-cost Allegiant launched service from Meadows Field in November, its Friday and Sunday passenger counts have been strong, county Department of Airports Director Jack Gotcher said. But on Wednesdays, only about half the service's 150 seats are full, he said.

LoPiccolo said Las Vegas-based Allegiant typically enters a market with two flights a week.

"We thought that perhaps the Bakersfield market would be able to justify three times a week," she said.

Gotcher said he remembers speaking with Allegiant about that before the service began. As he recalled, the discussion focused on the greater Bakersfield area's population.

"They thought that we had good population to go over there," he said.

The Allegiant spokeswoman said that, despite the light loads on Wednesdays, the airline is pleased with the response from Bakersfield, which lost service to Las Vegas in 2008.

Gotcher said it's not uncommon for airlines to adjust their flight schedules, and so he was not surprised by Allegiant's action. He predicted that the third weekly flight would eventually return.

He may be right, LoPiccolo said, adding that elimination of the Wednesday flights was definite only through mid-August.

"We really micro-manage our schedules," she said.

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