Help Allegiant file a new flight plan; Airline wants input on adding a destination to service from Valley.

Lehigh Valley International Airport wants you to tell Allegiant Air where to go. As in what the airline's next destination from LVIA should be. A survey on the airport's Web site asks travelers to cast votes for one or more of four cities...


Lehigh Valley International Airport wants you to tell Allegiant Air where to go.

As in what the airline's next destination from LVIA should be.

A survey on the airport's Web site asks travelers to cast votes for one or more of four cities: Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers in Florida, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

LVIA will give the survey results to Allegiant, which already flies from here to Orlando and St. Petersburg in Florida.

But in the case of Fort Lauderdale, LVIA may not need the results of a survey to persuade Allegiant to launch flights to the city. The Las Vegas-based budget airline announced this week it will launch new nonstop service in the fall to Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix from some of the cities it already serves.

Allegiant has held "serious conversations" with LVIA about flights to Fort Lauderdale, airline spokeswoman Tyri Squyres said Friday. But she said she can't confirm or deny Allegiant will be launching the service here.

"We view LVIA as having a very good chance of winning the service," she said.

George Doughty, the airport's top official, said he leaves new route announcements to the airlines, and would not confirm that Allegiant plans to announce flights from LVIA to Fort Lauderdale. But he said the prospects for new service to the south Florida city are good.

"Given the fact that we have consistently been [Allegiant's] No. 1 market to Florida, if not their No. 1 market overall, I would think we have a good chance of being high on that list," Doughty said in an e-mail.

Allegiant will begin announcing the new routes to Fort Lauderdale and Phoenix next week.

Allegiant initiated flights at LVIA at the end of 2005 after LVIA had lost its second low-fare carrier in less than a year, and as passenger traffic was plummeting. In 2006, passenger traffic at LVIA fell to its lowest level in at least 10 years.

The airport has begun to reverse its fortunes with nine consecutive months of year-over-year increases in traffic, thanks in part to strong passenger counts on Allegiant. So far this year, traffic is up 9 percent at the airport to 413,625 passengers. Allegiant flew 16,525 passengers to and from LVIA in July, the airport said.

Airport officials have been expecting Allegiant to add a third destination from LVIA for some time. The airline, which went public last year, leased additional airplanes in May and June as part of a plan to add three aircraft to its fleet. The airline owns or leases about 30 airplanes.

While Doughty has previously said Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers are popular destinations for Lehigh Valley travelers, Allegiant does not fly to Fort Myers now.

Flights to Fort Lauderdale were previously available here on the now-defunct Southeast Airlines and Hooters Air.

Other airlines that serve LVIA fly to Florida and Las Vegas but none of them fly there nonstop.

To fill out the survey, visit www.lvia.org, and click on the logo that reads, "Tell Allegiant Where to Go."

jeanne.bonner@mcall.com

610-820-6539

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