Saturday, July 3, 2010

Allegiant Air begins service to Long Beach

LONG BEACH -- Allegiant Airlines made its debut flight Thursday into Long Beach Airport, joining recent arrival Frontier as the latest carrier at Daugherty Field.

Allegiant will operate five non-stop flights weekly to Stockton and three to northern Washington, just across the border from Vancouver, Canada.

The airline's first flight to Long Beach, from Bellingham, Washington, arrived just after 5 p.m. Thursday, carrying about 140 people aboard an MD-80 jet.

Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said the new carrier should push annual passenger volumes well above 3 million.

"It's a good deal for the Long Beach community and the airport because we have new jobs, new revenues and new locations that expand the airport's reach," Rodriguez said.

The airline is the sixth to service Long Beach Airport, which city leaders contend remains on the few bright spots in a depressed local economy.

"We're hoping that with this new airline we can attract more people to spend a day or two in Long Beach, and get to love the city and come back," said Val Lerch, a Long Beach City Councilwoman whose Ninth District borders the airport. "And when they come back and visit the shoreline and eat at our restaurants and take in the atmosphere, they spend money, money, money."

The small, low-cost carrier signed a deal with Long Beach in late 2009 for service to Washington and Central California, though they may end up switching flight destinations based on demand.
Allegiant Spokeswoman Sabrina LoPiccolo said the airport was a perfect fit because of its famously short wait times and low carrier rates.

"Going to an airport like Long Beach is a perfect fit and gives us more opportunities to expand as well as fitting in with our business model, said LoPiccolo.

With Allegiant, Long Beach now has six airlines serving 17 destinations across the country.

Allegiant arrives just as the airport is launching a multi-year modernization plan that includes a nearly $140-million makeover with new passenger terminal, jet tarmacs, parking, food court and screening lanes.

(Kristopher Hanson - Press Telegram)


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