October 07, 2005

Allegiant Picks Up Rockford TMA Route to SAN

Just six days after TransMeridian Airlines folded, Allegiant Air said Wednesday it will begin nonstop jet service on Dec. 15 from Greater Rockford Airport to Orlando Sanford International Airport. The destination is popular with Rockford area travelers - TMA's flights were more than 80 percent full.

Allegiant Air will fly four times weekly, on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. That's one more flight than TMA offered at the time of its demise. Allegiant Air also offers package deals with 18 Orlando and three Daytona Beach hotels, with round trip air fare and three night hotel stays starting at $185 based on double occupancy.

Allegiant Air flights will leave Rockford at 12:15 p.m. and arrive at Orlando Sanford at 3:45 p.m. Flights leave Orlando Sanford at 10 a.m. and arrive in Rockford at 11:40 a.m. Introductory one-way fares start at $59 when booked at www.allegiantair.com. This is the second Rockford destination announced by Allegiant Air. In September, the airline said it will fly four times a week from Rockford to Las Vegas starting Nov. 3.

Derek Martin, Greater Rockford Airport's deputy director, said the airport has courted Allegiant for two years to provide service to both Las Vegas and Orlando."Originally, Allegiant wanted to be in Madison, Wis. I spent two years trying to convince them that Madison wasn't the place for their product, Rockford was," Martin said. "We talked about Las Vegas and Orlando, and when opportunities came about to bring Las Vegas on board, we started those conversations again, and they were looking for the timing, and the timing happened very quickly."

Squyres said that when TMA shut down abruptly Thursday, Rockford airport leaders immediately phoned Allegiant Air. "It was some late night phone calls for a couple of days, and we got it all worked out pretty quickly," she said. The airline made its decision Monday.

"Everything is about the numbers, and it all pencils out very favorably that this is going to be a great market for us," Squyres said.The airport is not giving Allegiant Air service guarantees or fee waivers, Martin said."The only thing that's been committed is to include them in our advertising package throughout the region." The value is $75,000, he said.Allegiant Air was founded in 1997 and serves 25 U.S. cities from Las Vegas, in addition to 12 cities from Orlando Sanford. It has been profitable for the past two years, "which is enormous in our business," Squyres said

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