Thursday, February 23, 2017

Allegiant Air to launch international service in 2018

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air plans to launch international flights in 2018, provided it can update its reservations system to handle foreign bookings.

Allegiant operates an in-house reservations system, and is updating the software in order to handle international routes and foreign currency sales, Allegiant SVP-commercial Lukas Johnson said. “For foreign sales, we’ll have to either rewrite the code for our reservations system, or will explore using [global distribution systems] connectivity,” Johnson said at the Routes Americas conference.

Allegiant does not sell tickets through external distribution systems. It is one of only a few carriers that built its reservations system in-house. The airline is upgrading its current system, AIS, to one called G4Plus. The new system will handle foreign sales. The call center now is using a version of G4Plus, Allegiant director of marketing Jessica Wheeler said.

Allegiant has not identified the foreign markets it intends to serve, but Johnson noted the carrier will hew to its strategy of connecting small- and mid-size markets in the US with leisure destinations. Allegiant operates to many of its markets on a less-than-daily schedule, and this is not expected to change. The carrier will focus exclusively on the leisure and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) markets, he added.

Allegiant is continuing its transition to an all-Airbus A320-family fleet, Johnson said. The airline is retiring 12 MD-80s this year, with the goal of phasing out the entire fleet of more than 40 MD-80s within three years.

The airline also is retiring its Boeing 757 fleet by the end of this year, and will cease Hawaii flights, Johnson said. He added that the 18 Airbus A320-family aircraft Allegiant plans to receive this year will not be ETOPS-certified. “We would have to sacrifice some seats on A320ceos for ETOPS, which didn’t make sense for us,” he said.

Although Allegiant is sticking with its strategy of serving small- and mid-size markets, it has moved from being primarily a west coast airline to having 60% of its capacity east of the Mississippi River, Johnson said.

Allegiant recently began serving Cleveland Hopkins International Airport after ending operations at Akron-Canton Airport. It made the switch after noticing that most of its passengers in the region lived near Cleveland. “It made more sense for us to use Cleveland,” he said.

Allegiant’s recent launch of Newark, New Jersey, service is not a departure from its strategy, Johnson said. The carrier is selling New York City as a destination to which it takes leisure passengers, and not as a business-traveler destination, he said.

(Madhu Unnikrishnan - Aviation Daily / ATWOnline News)

No comments: