Phoenix could be in Allegiant's flight plans

Aug. 20, 2007

Low-fare carrier Allegiant Air is considering adding destinations, and one possibility is Phoenix, a popular destination for Lincoln fliers.

Tyri Squyres, an Allegiant spokeswoman, said the airline is planning to add up to two more destinations by the end of the year.

The airline currently flies from dozens of small cities to Las Vegas and Orlando and St. Petersburg, Fla.

Though Squyres declined to say what cities are being considered, speculation has centered on Phoenix.

Most of that is based on rumors circulating in the airline and travel industries. But Allegiant did tip its hat earlier this month when it sent a letter to officials at the Rapid City, S.D., Regional Airport saying the airport would not be considered for service to its "new warm-weather Western destination"because of its high fuel costs.

Lincoln Airport Executive Director John Wood said he has heard the Phoenix rumor and, if true, he hopes Lincoln would be considered for the service.

"Phoenix would be a very popular destination from Lincoln,"Wood said.

Lincoln has not had nonstop service to Phoenix since the early 1990s, but the city has continued to rank high among both business and leisure travelers in surveys done by the airport.

Because of that interest, Lincoln would likely be in a good position if Allegiant does start flying there.

Currently Allegiant flies twice a week from Lincoln to Las Vegas. Earlier this year it changed the days of its flights from Wednesdays and Saturdays to Thursdays and Sundays.

Since then, the airline's passenger numbers have improved, though neither Wood nor Squyres would say how much.

Despite expanding in dozens of other markets, with either increased service to Las Vegas or expanded service to its Florida destinations, Allegiant has shown no interest in doing so here.

"Right now we are comfortable that our current amount of service is meeting the demand that we are receiving from the Lincoln community," Squyres said.

Wood said Lincoln officials continue to have discussions with Allegiant about increased service from time to time, but so far they have not yielded any results.

Could that change if Phoenix comes into play?

Wood said it's too early to tell.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions at this point because they haven't made it official and they may change their minds," he said.

Reach Matt Olberding at 473-2647 or