Jan. 17 -- Get ready to hit the beach.
Low-cost airline Allegiant Air will add nonstop service to Florida's Tampa Bay area from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport beginning Feb. 13, the company announced Tuesday.
The carrier, which is a subsidiary of the Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company, will introduce the service with rates as low as $39 each way to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
"We're very pleased to expand our service to the Upstate with low-fare nonstop flights to the Tampa area," said Eric Woodson, director of marketing and sales for Allegiant Air.
The self-proclaimed "Official Airline for Sunshine" launched its first nonstop, low-cost service to Orlando, Fla., from GSP on Nov. 14. The steady sales of those tickets emboldened the airline to branch out and offer a new destination.
An official count of passengers traveling between the Upstate and Orlando on Allegiant Air jets was unavailable Tuesday. But Tyri Squyres, director of corporate communications, said from the airline's office in Las Vegas that "the company would not have added another flight option if sales of tickets to Orlando weren't doing so well."
Tampa flights will run three days per week and are scheduled each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Orlando flights run four days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. There are no restrictions on departures, which means a passenger could leave from GSP to Orlando, travel by car or bus to Tampa and then fly to GSP for the same rate.
Departing flights from GSP to Tampa will leave at 3:25 p.m. and arrive at St. Petersburg/Clearwater at 4:50 p.m. Flights leaving Tampa will depart at 1:25 p.m. and arrive at GSP at 2:50 p.m. The airline will use a portion of its fleet of 25 MD-80 series, 130-seat jet-aircraft on the route.
"The Tampa area is another great Florida market to serve out of GSP," said Gary Jackson, executive director of GSP. "It's one of our top eight destinations, and we're glad that Allegiant Air has decided to give Upstate travelers another nonstop option."
Jackson said Allegiant Air's new service would raise the number of flights from GSP to Tampa by 15 percent and reduce overall rates at GSP by 40 percent. He expects ticket sales at GSP to soar in 2007 even though sales cooled last year after a sizzling 2005, which was the airport's best year since opening in 1962.
With the departure of Independence Air from GSP in January 2006, ticket sales plummeted from over 1.7 million in 2005 to about 1.5 million the following year.
Independence Air was a low-cost airline based in Virginia that operated from 1989 until 2006. It ceased all operations on Jan. 5, 2006, after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on Nov. 7, 2005.
Allegiant Air approached GSP last year amidst the airport's search for a new low-cost carrier. After a brief courtship, Allegiant became the only low-cost airline at GSP. And it's determined to succeed in the Upstate.
"We want to be the best," Woodson said. "It's our goal to connect small to medium sized cities like Greenville and Spartanburg to bigger cities around the U.S."
Woodson also said that Allegiant is working on providing a low-cost service out of GSP for flights to Las Vegas, but that it would take some time to arrange.
Reservations may be made through the company's Web site at , the airline's Reservations Center at 702-505-8888 or professional travel agents.
Allegiant's $39 one-way introductory fee must be purchased by Feb. 10, for travel through June 10. After that, regular one-way fares start at $59.
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