Buying used planes among Allegiant Air’s keys to success


The plane facts

Other airlines flying out of Grand Junction Regional Airport reported losses for their operations overall for the third quarter.

• American Airlines

Flies from Grand Junction to Dallas.

Third-quarter loss: $265 million.

Grand Junction passengers in September: 2,732.

• Delta Airlines

Flies from Grand Junction to Salt Lake City.

Third-quarter loss: $161 million.

Grand Junction passengers in September: 3,786.

• United Airlines

Flies from Grand Junction to Denver.

Third-quarter loss: $57 million.

Grand Junction passengers in September: 7,452.

• U.S. Airways

Flies from Grand Junction to Phoenix, Ariz.

Third quarter loss: $80 million.

Grand Junction passengers in September: 2,121.

• Frontier Airlines, which flew between Grand Junction and Denver until Sept. 14 and boarded 1,467 people here that month, has been acquired by Republic Airways, which will announce third-quarter results Thursday.

While other airlines declared a third-quarter loss, Allegiant Air made $13.8 million in July, August and September.

The airline, which flies out of Grand Junction to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, has cheap air fares (as low as $25.99 one-way to Los Angeles or $29.99 one-way to Las Vegas) but makes a portion of its money from baggage and other fees, on-board drink sales and partnerships with hotels and car rental companies in destination towns.

Allegiant also saves money by buying used planes and fixing them and owning the planes rather than for paying expensive leases.

Allegiant planes fly in and out of Grand Junction on Sundays and Thursdays. A limited schedule helps Allegiant Air fill seats, spokeswoman Sabrina Lopiccolo said.

“We usually run 90 percent full,” she said.

A handful of larger cities make the list of 77 airports Allegiant flies between. Most of the airports are located in small to medium-sized cities. Flights go to between one and eight destinations from all of the airports except for Las Vegas (43 destinations), Orlando, Fla. (37 destinations), Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Fla. (23 destinations), Phoenix (20 destinations) and Los Angeles (12 destinations). Nearly all cities with more than one flight destination are located near beaches, mountains, or larger cities. Allegiant doesn’t keep track of how many people use Grand Junction as a destination or a home base when they fly to Los Angeles or Las Vegas, but Lopiccolo said flights out of Los Angeles in general are showing plenty of Angelenos vacationing in smaller cities.

Allegiant does not advertise its smaller cities, such as Grand Junction, in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, but the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau has amplified marketing in those areas since Allegiant began flights to Las Vegas in 2006 and to Los Angeles this May. Lopiccolo said adding Los Angeles flights earlier this year shows Grand Junction has been a good partner to the airline.

“The fact that we’re adding service to your community speaks volumes. If the market wasn’t going well, we wouldn’t be adding flights,” she said.

Allegiant boarded 1,933 people headed from Grand Junction to Las Vegas in September. The Las Vegas flight accounts for 10.5 percent of Grand Junction Regional Airport’s total passenger count this year. Allegiant ridership peaked at 3,104 passengers in May, and 18,538 people boarded the flight to Vegas during the first nine months of 2009.

Grand Junction-to-Los Angeles flight data was not available.


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