Huntington, W.Va. Gets Low-Cost Carrier

Huntington's Tri-State Airport was expected to announce today that low-cost Allegiant Air will begin flying two round trips a week from Huntington to Orlando-Sanford, Fla., beginning Nov. 3.

Tyri Squyres, Allegiant's director of corporate communications, said the flights will be on Tuesdays and Fridays, leaving Huntington at 12:10 p.m. and arriving at Orlando-Sanford at 2 p.m. Flights from Orlando will depart at 9:25 a.m., arriving in Huntington at 11:35 a.m.

"If you look at our route maps, you will see Huntington is an ideal market for us," Squyres said. "There is a large population in this area that does not currently have low cost and convenient access to a vacation destination like Orlando."

Allegiant will introduce its service with a $59 one-way fare. Squyres said that to get that price, customers must purchase tickets by Sept. 23 but can travel up until Jan. 31.

She said Allegiant's regular one-way fare will be about $79, although the price may be higher during periods of peak demand.

"We have 21 hotel partners in the central Florida area," Squyres said. "We have a three-night hotel package for $187 that includes the discount airfare and three nights' hotel stay. We offer value beyond just the airfare."

Allegiant will fly full-size MD-80 jet aircraft with 150 seats. "I understand there has not been full-size scheduled jet service at the airport for about 10 years," she said.

Charleston had tried to lure Allegiant to Yeager Airport.

Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson said, "I am very happy for Huntington and our region because it is a good niche for them."

Atkinson conceded that Yeager may lose some customers because of the deal. However, "We always said during the regional airport debate that two strong airports were better than one high-cost airport for the region," he said.

"What will happen is, people going to Columbus to fly Southwest to Orlando will now go from Huntington," he said. "This will increase their enplanements by 12,000 to 13,000 a year. Allegiant has a good business model. They're a good carrier. They're going to do well."

Atkinson said Allegiant has traditionally looked at going into small airports that don't have a lot of competition.

"We have five comprehensive network carriers serving Yeager and every one can get you to Orlando," he said. "They would be competing with five carriers in Charleston vs. competing with two in Huntington that don't have a lot of seats."

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