Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Long Beach Airport awards three open slots made available with Allegiants Airs departure

Two weeks after Allegiant Airlines announced it was ending service at Long Beach Airport, the carrier's three daily slots have been filled through a lottery.

JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines and US Airways received the positions and are expected to announce destinations in coming days.

Airport authorities said demand for the slots was overwhelming, with more than twice as many seeking positions than were available.

Under city ordinances, the airport allows a maximum 41 daily passenger flights.

"We said we'd immediately fill the slots, and we did," said Mario Rodriguez, airport director. "Long Beach has much more demand for slots than what we can provide."

Allegiant has said it will make its last flight out of Long Beach on Nov. 28, after which the replacing airlines can begin service.

The trio already operate from Daugherty Field, so it's expected they'll add new cities to their itineraries.

Rodriguez said the airlines submitted requests for over twice as many slots than were available.

Allegiant, which began service out of Long Beach in July of 2010, announced in early October it was moving its local operations elsewhere due to weak demand.

The low-cost carrier had been flying to Bellingham, Washington on the Canadian border, Idaho Falls and Las Vegas.

It became the second carrier to quit service at Long Beach this year, following Frontier Air's departure in April - also due to weak demand and stiff competition.

Frontier's two daily slots were quickly filled, and total passenger volume at Long Beach is up 4 percent this year despite the stalling economy and downward trends at other local airports, said airport spokeswoman Kerry Gerot.
City officials said that the departure of Allegiant Airlines, which operated MD-80 aircraft, should result in less noise as the airlines who won the lottery operate quieter aircraft.

The MD-80, an older jet, often neared or exceeded city noise ordinances during takeoffs and landings.

Despite Allegiant's departure, the airport is expected to draw more than 3 million passengers this year, almost quadruple levels 10 years ago, before the arrival of JetBlue.

Long Beach Airport offers flights to 13 cities, including Boston, San Francisco, New York, Anchorage and Chicago.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

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