Saturday, October 1, 2011

Allegiant Air cancels Long Beach service for a second time

Allegiant Air is leaving Long Beach, the second carrier to scuttle service to the city since Spring.

The carrier, which began service out of Long Beach Airport in July 2010, announced Friday it is giving up three daily slots by Nov. 28, though other airlines are expected to pick up those slots shortly.

Airport officials said they will put the spaces into a lottery for interested airlines within days, and the spaces will then be assigned randomly before the end of October.

When Frontier Air ended service in April, JetBlue and Allegiant won the airline's two slots and began flights a few weeks later, maintaining the airport's legally mandated maximum of 41 daily commuter flights.

Airport director Mario Rodriguez said demand is strong for the fresh spots, and they hope to attract airlines using quiet engines such as those featured on newer Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 models.

"Our initial contact with our airline partners indicate that there is indeed more demand than available slots," Rodriguez said Friday. "(We'll) open the three slots immediately and these are not restricted to existing (Long Beach Airport) carriers."

Allegiant was the airport's fifth passenger carrier, alongside Delta, US Airways, Alaska/Horizon and JetBlue, which operates the most flights in and out of Daugherty Field.

The departure is not expected to significantly lower Long Beach Airport's annual passenger totals, which now totals more than 3 million people, up from fewer than a million 10 years ago, Rodriguez said.

Allegiant Air, which had been operating routes to Bellingham on the Washington-Canada border, Idaho Falls and Las Vegas, hasn't announced where they plan to relocate the jets.

Customers with reservations beyond Nov. 28 are being contacted directly by Allegiant for full refunds.

"Long Beach Airport has been a great partner for Allegiant and we thank its staff for their support and professionalism," Allegiant President Andy Levy said in an e-mail. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers."

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

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