September 14, 2005

Allegiant Drops Madison, WI

Allegiant Air, which ended its flights between Madison and Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, will eliminate flights between Madison and Las Vegas on Oct. 31. Allegiant spokeswoman Tyri Squyres said rising fuel costs and competition from Northwest Airlines, which will begin Madison-Las Vegas service on Oct. 30, prompted the decision to end the year-old service.

"We feel that Northwest coming in is going to add some additional pressure," she said. "Knowing that we've had decent, but not tremendous results (in Madison), we felt it was going to be pretty tough to battle that out." She said customers with reservations will be issued refunds or accommodated on other carriers. Despite planes from Madison that were 66 percent to 95 percent full during the first five months of 2005, Squyres said other Las Vegas routes have done better, including Allegiant's service from Green Bay.

Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said his airline's planned Madison-Las Vegas service was motivated by Northwest's commitment to serve customers and not by the plans of another airline. Allegiant's Las Vegas route was the first of several nonstop destinations added to the Madison airport over the past year. Airport and tourism officials say they don't think Allegiant's pullout will hurt their efforts to attract more service because other new routes are doing well. Northwest Airlines flights between Madison and Washington, D.C., and two daily American Eagle flights between Madison and Dallas-Fort Worth were added in June, and both carriers said those flights are doing well.

Brad Livingston, Dane County Regional Airport director, said he was surprised by Allegiant's decision to drop its Las Vegas service because the route seemed to be attracting a lot of passengers. He said the move doesn't indicate a decline in the Madison market. American Connection service to St. Louis soon will be upgraded to larger planes and he's working on other opportunities.

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