Allegiant Air to offer service to Phoenix, Long Beach, source says

-- July 15--Low-fare leisure carrier Allegiant Air plans to announce today it will add flights to Phoenix and Long Beach, Calif., to its Colorado Springs schedule, sources familiar with the airline's plans said Wednesday. The Las...


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July 15--Low-fare leisure carrier Allegiant Air plans to announce today it will add flights to Phoenix and Long Beach, Calif., to its Colorado Springs schedule, sources familiar with the airline's plans said Wednesday.

The Las Vegas-based airline, which has operated flights between the Springs and Las Vegas since 2002, has called a news conference at 10 a.m. today at the Colorado Springs Airport to discuss its expansion plans.

Tyri Squyres, Allegiant's vice president of marketing and sales, said Wednesday she could "neither confirm nor deny" that the airline plans to expand its local service with the two new destinations.

The new service will restore flights to Phoenix that ended when US Airways pulled out of the Springs on Jan. 4, citing increased low-fare competition at Denver International Airport that had made serving the Springs unprofitable.

Colorado Springs hasn't had nonstop service to Long Beach for at least the past 25 years; United Express offers nonstop service to Los Angeles International Airport, which is about 20 miles southeast of Long Beach.

Colorado Springs was one of the first two cities Allegiant began serving five months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when a founder of ValuJet Airlines took control of Allegiant and began offering flights to Las Vegas from smaller cities such as Colorado Springs. The company has since grown to offer flights to 70 cities, including resort destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., Phoenix and Los Angeles.

The Springs will be the third city to which Allegiant has added Long Beach service this year. The airline specializes in travel packages that include air fare, hotel, rental car and entertainment for a discounted price.

The airline uses a fleet of 46 MD-80 aircraft and said in March it plans to buy six Boeing 757 aircraft by the end of next year so it can begin service to Hawaii late this year; Allegiant has not said what cities will get Hawaii flights.

Even as most airlines lost money last year, Allegiant more than doubled its profits to $76.3 million, or $3.76 a share, despite revenue growth of just 10.7 percent. That's mostly because the airline cut its operating expense per passenger by 21.6 percent.

Although profits have declined in the past two quarters from a year earlier, Allegiant has remained profitable every quarter for more than seven years.

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Contact the writer at 636-0234.

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