Two months after launching service from Roanoke to Orlando, low-cost carrier Allegiant Air announced Tuesday plans to double the number of weekly flights on that route starting in November.
The Las Vegas-based airline currently flies nonstop to Orlando's Sanford International Airport twice a week from Roanoke for about $100 each way, and according to airport officials, those flights have stayed consistently full throughout much of the summer.
Allegiant will add flights on Monday and Friday to its existing flights on Wednesday and Saturday. The flights leave Roanoke at 6 p.m. and arrive in Orlando at 7:50 p.m. The airline flies twin-engine MD80 jets that carry 150 passengers.
"We generally don't add service so quickly," said Allegiant Air spokeswoman Tyri Squyres. "But from the beginning, we've gotten such a good response from the Roanoke community." She added that Roanoke was among the airline's best booking markets for flights to Orlando. The airline also flies nonstop to Orlando from 14 other cities including Allentown, Pa., and Newburgh, N.Y.
Sherry Wallace, a spokeswoman for Roanoke Regional Airport, said that while airlines have cut capacity nationwide this year, more people tend to be flying this summer than several years ago.
Allegiant Air has been selling out many of its flights, she said, and probably will continue to as the summer traffic dies down. Orlando is ranked fifth on the airport's list of top 10 destinations and stays popular throughout much of the year, Wallace said. Las Vegas, the airline's home base, is ranked 10th on Roanoke's list, but Squyres said it is doubtful that Allegiant Air will begin flying nonstop between the two cities -- at least not in the short-term.
"For the aircraft we fly, fuel would be an issue," Squyres said, adding that the 150-seat plane would have to make at least one stop to refuel. The farthest east Allegiant Air flies, she said, is from Las Vegas to Lansing, Mich.
Allegiant Air specializes in taking passengers to Orlando and Las Vegas from smaller-city airports such as Roanoke. It saves money by flying into Sanford International Airport, northeast of Orlando and about 35 miles from Walt Disney World.
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