Allegiant Starting Chattanooga-Orlando Service

Allegiant Air's plan for nonstop flights between Chattanooga and Orlando starting Oct. 31 should attract some leisure travelers who now drive to Atlanta to fly, officials said.

Also, Chattanooga officials hope the new service on the 150-seat jets, the largest aircraft flying out of the city, will reach into the North Georgia suburbs of Atlanta and woo traffic.

"We're looking forward to introducing the north part of Atlanta to the airport," Mayor Ron Littlefield said Thursday.

The low-cost airline that focuses on flying to Orlando and Las Vegas will make one round trip a day on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The airline will fly between Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport, which is on the northeast side of the Florida city. Orlando International Airport, the larger of the city's two airports, is in the southeastern part of the city.

Tyri Squyres, the Las Vegas-based airline's corporate communications director, said it is the discount carrier's strategy to fly into smaller airports. She said Orlando Sanford is convenient not just to Orlando but to Daytona Beach.

Flights will leave Chattanooga at 10:15 a.m. and arrive in Orlando at 11:50 a.m. Leaving Orlando, flights will depart at 8 a.m. and arrive in Chattanooga at 9:40 a.m., according to the airline.

The carrier will start new service with limited introductory fares as low as $49 each way when booked at www .allegiantair.com. The tickets must be purchased by Sept. 23 for travel through Jan. 31, 2007, Ms. Squyres said.

She said that after the introductory period, Allegiant's regular one-way fares on the route start as low as $79.

Mike Landguth, president of Chattanooga's airport, said it is providing a $20,000 incentive to Allegiant Air for advertising.

"They'll do a pretty good blitz," he said. Mr. Landguth said the airport has been wooing Allegiant for about three years.

Chattanooga air travelers have not seen nonstop flights to Orlando in almost a decade.

In late 1996 and early 1997, low-fare carrier AirTran Airways offered flights on 126-seat jets between the cities, but it stopped after about four months, saying passenger traffic was too low.

Last September, Delta Air Lines announced it was starting a daily nonstop to Orlando, but the carrier dropped the flight before it began due to the airline's financial problems.

Allegiant has nonstops from 15 U.S. cities to Orlando and from 33 locations to Las Vegas.

Founded in 1997, Allegiant is privately owned, but it plans to become publicly traded and is profitable, Ms. Squyres said. She said the airline recently announced new service in South Carolina and West Virginia, and Chattanooga is its first Tennessee city.

Ms. Squyres said Allegiant typically flies planes that are about 80 percent full, and she expects the airline's low fares will stimulate the market by four times the current level to help reach those loads.

She said Allegiant's fare will cut the existing cost of flying to Orlando by 50 percent.

Chattanooga air travel typically is much heavier with business fliers than leisure travelers. Some estimates put business travel as high as 80 percent of all traffic at the airport.

One of Allegiant's strategies is to offer vacation packages that include air fare and hotel costs, officials said. For example, Allegiant is launching the Chattanooga-Orlando service with a vacation package that includes round-trip airfare and a two-night hotel stay for as low as $144.

The Allegiant vacations division offers low-cost packages with 21 Orlando hotels and three in Daytona Beach, according to the airline.



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