Allegiant Adds Flights before Leaving Ground in Knoxville

Allegiant Air will fly four times a week to the Orlando area beginning in February, the company announced Wednesday.

The Las Vegas-based airline has so much confidence in the Knoxville market it has for the first time in its nine-year history announced three destinations before even beginning service, said Eric Woodson, director of marketing and sales for the company.

The leisure travel company had previously announced service to Tampa/St. Petersburg and Las Vegas.

Presently, Delta Airlines is the only carrier in Knoxville that has direct flights to Orlando and Tampa.

Allegiant's service to Tampa begins Dec. 13, and service to Las Vegas and Orlando begins Feb. 15.

Woodson said the Tampa flights this month are already 80 percent booked.

Beginning fares to Orlando will be $49 one way and must be booked by Dec. 31. After that, flights will be $79 one way.

All three destinations are nonstop, and that marks the first time Knoxville has had non-stop flights to Las Vegas.

Woodson said Allegiant has established a unique niche among airlines. It offers low fairs, nonstop service with full-size MD80 jets, and it offers all-inclusive vacation packages.

For example, passengers can book an entire vacation from Allegiant's Web site, including rental cars and lodging. The site features price comparisons, too.

Also, the airline has 21 different Orlando hotels it partners with to offer package deals for its passengers.

The Orlando Sanford International Airport is 18 miles northeast of Orlando, where Orlando International Airport operates.

When Allegiant begins its flights this month, it will be the ninth airline operating out of the Knoxville airport. The nine airlines combined offer 20 nonstop flights to cities around the country.

Kirk Huddleston, chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority's board of commissioners, said currently about 76,000 passengers fly from Knoxville to Orlando.

That makes it the fourth most popular destination behind Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago.

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