Allegiant Air lays the groundwork to begin international flights: First destination? Mexico

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Discount carrier Allegiant Air is going international, with plans to begin service to Mexico.

The Las Vegas-based airline on Monday filed an application with the  U.S. Department of Transportation for authority to offer Mexico flights.

Allegiant, which specializes in cheap nonstop flights to warm-weather vacation destinations from smaller cities, did not disclose which destination cities it will fly to in Mexico or from which U.S. airports. The airline also did not provide a timetable for beginning service.

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 “Offering service to Mexico will provide a whole new array of options for travelers to discover world-class destinations that may have been previously out of reach,”  Allegiant CEO Maury Gallagher said in a statement.

Allegiant has had Mexico on its radar for years. A 2013 report from industry researcher CAPA (Centre for Aviation) said Allegiant had planned to offer flights from Las Vegas to Mexico the following year. Destinations mentioned at the time: Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun.

The airline already offers charter flights to Cancun from Pittsburgh and Indianapolis through vacation package company Apple Vacations.

If and when Allegiant begins flying to Mexico, it will have plenty of competition to Mexico, as most major U.S. airlines already offer flights to the country’s top vacation spots.

Allegiant currently operates some charter flights to Mexico in an arrangement with Apple Vacations, but the scheduled flights to Mexico would be its first-ever regular service to another country.

“We believe that providing scheduled service to Mexico will also be of great economic benefit, by stimulating traffic and providing additional competition in the international leisure market,” Allegiant CEO Maury Gallagher said in a Monday statement.

Allegiant has long had a unique business model among U.S. carriers. It rose to prominence by giving small and medium-sized cities nonstop service to vacation destinations. The airline still flies dozens of such routes, including options like Minot, North Dakota-Las Vegas; St. Cloud, Minnesota-Mesa/Phoenix; and Ogdensburg, New York-Orlando/Sanford.

Bigger cities have joined the network in recent years as Allegiant’s growth has continued. Destinations such as Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; and New Orleans now share space on Allegiant’s route map with Pasco, Washington, and Owensboro, Kentucky.

Like other ULCCs, Allegiant’s business model hinges on offering low base fares with add-on charges for nearly everything beyond boarding the plane. The airline typically offers just two or three flights a week on most of its routes and does not sell itineraries that involve connecting flights. It specializes in selling vacation packages that bundle airfare with hotel and rental car options.

Now, the company appears to believe its model will work on international flights to Mexico.

“Unlike other U.S. carriers, Allegiant has always been laser-focused on leisure travel and providing access to affordable, non-stop flights for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go on vacation,” Maury said in the company’s statement. “Offering service to Mexico will provide a whole new array of options for travelers to discover world-class destinations that may have been previously out of reach.”

Even within the U.S., Allegiant’s footprint has been growing.

It will begin flying to Alaska next month, part of a broader expansion that will see it add more than dozen new routes for its summer schedule.

Not all of Allegiant’s gambles have worked, however. Allegiant began flying to Hawaii amid great fanfare back in 2012, flying to Honolulu from cities like Bellingham, Washington; Boise, Idaho; Fresno, California; and Las Vegas. However, Allegiant ended its final Hawaii route in 2017.

Source: the points guy, usa today

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