Make us your home page

Allegiant Air finds silver lining amid industry's clouds

Maybe you scratched your head over news reports that discounter Allegiant Air was adding new routes from the Tampa Bay area. Aren't airlines slashing schedules to cope with a weak economy and high fuel costs?

True if you're a huge hub-and-spoke carrier like American, United or Delta. But tiny Allegiant, the biggest player at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, smells opportunity in the new business landscape. Allegiant claims a unique niche of flying middle-class travelers from small cities like Chattanooga, Tenn., and Peoria, Ill., nonstop to vacation destinations.

Major airlines are cutting capacity deeply this quarter in Allegiant's four destination markets: Orlando (13.9 percent), Las Vegas (12.8 percent), Tampa Bay (11.1 percent) and Phoenix (10.5 percent). Facing skyrocketing fuel prices, the big boys dumped flights in low-fare markets like Florida. They also cut back in some small cities where Allegiant flies.

"We expect many new opportunities … as leisure routes continue to be abandoned by those whose business models do not enable them to profit in this environment but work very well for us," said CEO Maurice Gallagher, as the airline announced its 22nd consecutive profitable quarter in July.

Allegiant runs lean. But the real trick is making money from customers beyond the cost of their tickets. The airline charged for phone reservations, assigned seats, a cup of coffee and bag of chips long before major carriers.

When big airlines began collecting $15 for a checked bag this year, Allegiant raised its fee for Web-checked luggage to match. The carrier's average one-way fare is $85. But Allegiant gets almost $27 more from other purchases.

The airline's expansion is rare good news for St. Petersburg-Clearwater International. With the departure of No. 2 USA 3000 and Allegiant in its much-reduced fall schedule, only eight commercial flights per week take off from the airport.

The numbers perk up to 39 in November and peak around 60 for the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Day. That's a fraction of the activity at Tampa International, where Southwest alone makes 82 departures a day. But Allegiant will start flying next month to four destinations, for a total of 19.

Perhaps St. Pete-Clearwater International can adopt a new slogan: Today Tri-Cities, Tomorrow Elmira.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Allegiant Air finds silver lining amid industry's clouds 09/30/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses


    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works


    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach


    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  4. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021


    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)