Allegiant Air to Go Public

The parent company of Allegiant Air, Topeka's only commercial airline, is headed for a new destination - Wall Street.

The Allegiant Travel Co. announced in May that it registered for public ownership, offering shares of common stock amounting to $100 million. The official date of when the company will become public wasn't announced.

David Stremming, president of the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority, said Allegiant Air's move to public domain could affect Topekans, even the noninvestors.

"In most cases when a privately held company goes public it injects new cash and additional assets into the business," Stremming said. "This may mean more flights. It may mean more destinations. The more profitable the airline is the less likely they are to downgrade the service in a certain area."

Allegiant Air, commonly known as a low-cost carrier, has a Friday evening and a Monday evening flight from Forbes Field to McCarren Airport in Las Vegas each week. Ticket prices range from $69 to $200 one way.

In other cities, the airline also offers flights to Tampa, Fla., and Orlando, Fla. Stremming said it isn't out of the question for Allegiant to add more destinations from Topeka if the company performs well in the market.

Don't worry about longer lines or sold-out flights, though. Stremming said that if Allegiant Air sees that business is good in Topeka, the company could increase the number of flights, too.

"If the service is well supported, they will still maintain their flights, maybe even add flights," Stremming said. "I certainly don't see that Allegiant Air going public would have any negative impact."

Since Allegiant Air landed in Topeka in March, Stremming said its northeast Kansas business has taken off.

"Our numbers here in Topeka have been extremely good, on our Friday and our Monday departures. On Fridays, we average 135 to 140 people on a 150-passenger plane, which is a very good average," he said.

"On Mondays, we range from 110 to 112 people, which is extremely good when you consider school is back in session and summer vacation is over, and we've still maintained a good load of passengers."

Allegiant's business has been strong nationwide as well. The company was one of the few airlines that posted a profit in 2005, making $7.3 million on $132 million in revenues, according to AviationNow.com.

The airline offers flights in 35 cities to one of its three destinations but has plans to expand to up to 65 additional cities. Allegiant Air officials said adding flights to Mexico and the Caribbean also are within the realm of possibility.

Based on the company's history since it began in 1997, Stremming said the outlook appears good for Allegiant Air.

"I think that their track record from 2001 to current times has been positive," he said. "They have a lean, smart business plan and the ability to have great growth and expansion."

Taylor Atkins can be reached

at (785) 295-1187

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