Allegiant Buys ex-Thomson 757s for Hawai’i Flying, I’m Looking at Long Beach

The long-discussed rumors have finally come true. Allegiant, long loyal to the MD-80, is branching out. Starting later this year, they’ll start flying 757s to Hawai’i. There has some really cool potential, especially some right in my backyard.

Allegiant Takes 757s to Hawai'i

The plan is for Allegiant to buy 6 757-200s. The first two are to be delivered within a couple months and will go into service by the fourth quarter. Two more will go into service in the first half of 2011. The last two will go into service in the first half of 2012. This brings up two very big questions.

1) Where are they going to fly these things?

Allegiant’s model has always been to bring people from smaller cities with little service to large sun/vacation destinations a couple times a week. I don’t expect that to change. They tell us that these 757s are going to be used for Hawai’i flying. So we know that Hawai’i is the sun destination, but where will they be bringing people from?

I have one idea that makes me particularly excited, and it marks the first time that a sun destination and a spoke city are only 20 minutes apart. Long Beach. Allegiant will start service from Long Beach in August, so the timing is only slightly off, but I’m sure they can figure that out. This makes perfect sense. You can fly any number of airlines from LAX to Hawai’i and there is service from Orange County as well. But Long Beach doesn’t have any flights to Hawai’i at all, and the beauty for Allegiant is that it’s unlikely that it will ever face competition.

JetBlue doesn’t have the airplanes to make Hawai’i, so that’s not a real threat unless they buy a new fleet which seems unlikely in the near future. The other players either don’t have the fleet for it or they wouldn’t have any interest. That gives the market to Allegiant.

It makes even more sense considering that they already serve LAX from many smaller cities throughout the country. LAX is the sun destination. They don’t want to duplicate that service to Long Beach because Long Beach is more of an origin for large pockets of Southern California than it is a destination. This is a great way for them to open up Hawai’i while tapping into the Southern California market. Oh yeah, and the costs at Long Beach are really cheap. That helps.

I’m sure Long Beach won’t be the only place with Hawai’i flights. The most obvious would be to fly loads of Canadians from Bellingham, Washington. They already siphon off a ton of Canadian traffic there to send them down to Vegas. Considering the amount of lift that already goes from Vancouver to Hawai’i, I bet this would be a slam dunk.

Other than those to markets, I could see the potential for places like Fresno, Monterey, and Eugene a couple times a week. There is really a lot of opportunity for them here, and it fits right into their model.

2) Where are these planes coming from?
I’ve heard plenty of speculation about this, so let me end it for you. Sources tell me that these planes are likely coming from AerCap, an aircraft lessor. AerCap is taking these planes back from TUI’s Thomsonfly subsidiary. If this is true, that puts the planes around an early 1990s vintage. That’s not too old, but just old enough that Allegiant could get a good deal on them.

I’m sure these planes will be stuffed with a bunch of seats to help get travelers to their vacation. The total cost for all these airplanes is expected to be $75 to $90 million to get them ready for service. At $12 to $15 million a plane, that’s cheap under regular circumstances but incredibly pricey compared to Allegiant’s cheap MD-80s.

I’m excited about the prospects here. Very cool move.

28 Responses to Allegiant Buys ex-Thomson 757s for Hawai’i Flying, I’m Looking at Long Beach

  1. Oliver says:

    I hope Stockton CA will get a flight!

  2. Andrew says:

    Continental has been going crazy with adding Hawaii flights lately; they may just launch service to Long Beach so they could then add an overnight flight to HNL :-).

    What about Vegas? Allegiant is already there and Hawaiian is the only one on that route. Just a thought…

  3. CF says:

    Andrew wrote:

    Continental has been going crazy with adding Hawaii flights lately; they may just launch service to Long Beach so they could then add an overnight flight to HNL :-).
    What about Vegas? Allegiant is already there and Hawaiian is the only one on that route. Just a thought…

    Continental can’t add Long Beach. There are no slots available.

    As for Vegas, I just don’t see it. It’s outside of Allegiant’s model in that it’s connecting two sun destinations and there’s already significant competition on the route. It just wouldn’t make sense.

  4. Scott says:

    If you were wondering about BLI, wonder no longer:

    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/03/05/1324661/allegiant-will-get-long-range.html

    Port of Bellingham are going to re-pave the runway and parallel taxiway to allow the use of heavier aircraft like the (surprise surprise) 757.

    Hard to believe how many flights there are now on G4 out of BLI (5x/daily to LAS on some days!)

  5. Shane says:

    CF wrote:

    CF wrote:
    Continental can’t add Long Beach. There are no slots available.

    How would Allegiant get slots for Long Beach? Do they already have some?

  6. CF says:

    Shane wrote:

    How would Allegiant get slots for Long Beach? Do they already have some?

    Yep, they just received two of them when Long Beach reallocated 5 Alaska slots and 1 UPS slot. Frontier got two, Allegiant got two, JetBlue got one, and Delta got one.

  7. Mark says:

    This is great news. I bet the Hawaii visitors board is jumping for joy. They need a shot in the arm badly. (and I need lower fare to HI).

  8. David SFeastbay says:

    There are a lot of cities in the west that the 757 can reach for Hawaii service. They can move the aircraft around the west and change with the season and never touch a city that already has service to Hawaii. And if they stick with a 2-ish type schedule a week, they can serve a number of cities.

    Packaged tours are usually for a week, but it’s not out of place for Californians to just take a 4 day trip to the islands so daily service isn’t really needed for smaller cities.

    Good move on their part and it should be interesting to see what happens.

  9. Neal says:

    Do you expect the addition of these flights to open the possibility for Allegiant to allow for connecting flights?

    Since Allegiant does not allow connecting flights, straight point to point, do you think this opens the opportunity for Hawai’i flights to smaller Midwestern cities?

    I am trying to gauge how excited I can be if I want to fly to Hawai’i from the Midwest (say PIA) instead of connecting through ORD, ATL, etc.

  10. Eric says:

    Please, Cranky or someone ‘in the know’ edujamakate me. What is it with this rush to add HI capacity? DL is beefing up, CO is doing p2p, Hawaiian is growing and now G4 is throwing their hat into the ring. Last i heard, we were in a sever recession(officially) or depression(reality) and tourism is down, especially to the Islands.

    What gives? Do we have a Field of Dreams thing going on here or are people ditching the mortgage payment and running to Hilo for 7 nights/8 days….i’m confused.

  11. Ron says:

    I wonder what this means in terms of operations. I thought one of Allegiant’s cost-saving measures was only flying legs that are short enough to turn with the same crew. This won’t be possible to Hawaii, right? Now I don’t imagine the crews would want to twiddle their thumbs for 3 days until the next flight from Redding (nor would Allegiant want to put them up for that long). So should we assume crews will always be deadheading to/from the mainland stations?

    And, speaking of cost-saving, is it legal to fly 2 6-hour legs with 3 pilots, balancing their shifts so that each gets 8 hours flying?

    • Dano says:

      Yes… It’s called “Augmented Crew” and it is legal for Part 121 Flag operations. The First Officers will be type rated as PIC in the jet and the flight will operate with a crew of 3 as a “turn” with no overnight.

      ATA used to do it on these routes, as did Aloha. Nearly every International airline uses “heavy” or “augmented” crews on long haul flights that exceed 8 hours of flight time.

  12. L1011 says:

    Cranky, do you think they will utilize them at domestically? LAS/IWA-RFD/CID-SFB/PIE? Just an example of a midwest city served from multiple locations, there are obviously others.

    Since BLI appears to be in the mix, they fly to LAS/IWA/LAX from there. Potential utilization there.

    I wonder if they will have redeyes from Hawai’i back to the mainland?

    They are an interesting airline, I can’t wait to see how Hawai’i and the 75 fits into their model.

  13. David SFeastbay says:

    Ron wrote:

    I wonder what this means in terms of operations. I thought one of Allegiant’s cost-saving measures was only flying legs that are short enough to turn with the same crew. This won’t be possible to Hawaii, right? Now I don’t imagine the crews would want to twiddle their thumbs for 3 days until the next flight from Redding (nor would Allegiant want to put them up for that long). So should we assume crews will always be deadheading to/from the mainland stations?
    And, speaking of cost-saving, is it legal to fly 2 6-hour legs with 3 pilots, balancing their shifts so that each gets 8 hours flying?

    Why would a crew have to wait 3 days, they would just fly the next day to the mainland to another city. Once on the mainland they could fly the plane to the next city to overnight and then fly back to Hawaii or end their duty.

  14. CF says:

    Neal wrote:

    Do you expect the addition of these flights to open the possibility for Allegiant to allow for connecting flights?
    Since Allegiant does not allow connecting flights, straight point to point, do you think this opens the opportunity for Hawai’i flights to smaller Midwestern cities?

    I wouldn’t expect connecting flights. You’ll be able to buy two flights on the same ticket, but I would be surprised if they went to connections. And these planes won’t go to the Midwest from Hawai’i – don’t have the range.

    Eric wrote:

    Please, Cranky or someone ‘in the know’ edujamakate me. What is it with this rush to add HI capacity? DL is beefing up, CO is doing p2p, Hawaiian is growing and now G4 is throwing their hat into the ring. Last i heard, we were in a sever recession(officially) or depression(reality) and tourism is down, especially to the Islands.

    Hawai’i saw a tremendous capacity cut when Aloha and ATA went under and there has been a downgauging of aircraft size as well from existing guys. What this recession has shown is that business travel has suffered but leisure has held up much better. So this is a decent market to look at. Of course, this is Allegiant’s bread and butter. The recession also enabled them to get airplanes for less than during a boom so that makes their costs look better.

    Ron wrote:

    I wonder what this means in terms of operations. I thought one of Allegiant’s cost-saving measures was only flying legs that are short enough to turn with the same crew. This won’t be possible to Hawaii, right? Now I don’t imagine the crews would want to twiddle their thumbs for 3 days until the next flight from Redding (nor would Allegiant want to put them up for that long). So should we assume crews will always be deadheading to/from the mainland stations?
    And, speaking of cost-saving, is it legal to fly 2 6-hour legs with 3 pilots, balancing their shifts so that each gets 8 hours flying?

    I know that flight attendants can work a turn – they do that on Hawaiian now. But pilots wouldn’t be able to – my guess is deadheading, but we don’t know the details.

    L1011 wrote:

    Cranky, do you think they will utilize them at domestically? LAS/IWA-RFD/CID-SFB/PIE? Just an example of a midwest city served from multiple locations, there are obviously others.

    In the beginning, they probably will in order to build up some time and get ETOPS certified (for long haul overwater). But I would be surprised to see them operate within the lower 48 after that. There aren’t many markets that would support a 757 a couple times a week from these smaller cities.

  15. This is great news! I’ve been looking for a better deal on flights to Hawaii, so hopefully, this will work out well :)

  16. Bill from DC says:

    re B6, is the range of an A320 (3,200 nm) not sufficient to get from LGB to HNL?

  17. eponymous coward says:

    Allegiant’s model is selling vacation packages. There’s a HUGE market in selling Hawaii vacation packages to Vegas (the Boyd casinos, especially). I think they WILL do LAS-HI service.

  18. Ron says:

    David — I was thinking the planes would overnight in Hawaii rather than on the mainland. This thought was just based on their current mode of operation, but now I also see a very good reason for it: If the plane overnights at Redding, say from Tuesday to Wednesday, then you end up selling 6-night vacation packages; if it turns the same day, you sell 7-night packages. The hotel partners would clearly prefer the latter option.

    Come to think of it, this may also be the reason why in their current operation, birds always overnight at the base.

  19. Ron says:

    Oh, I guess the same logic works against overnight flying from Hawaii to the mainland: why put a person on a plane for the night when you can otherwise sell them a hotel bed?

  20. Tim says:

    I think that one of the more interesting questions is will they serve LIH, OGG, KOA, or ITO? They love package deals, so they’ll have to go into HNL. But they prefer the underserved airports with less competition, which means ITO, KOA, and to a lesser extent LIH. LGB-LIH direct on a LCC would be a dream for me.

  21. AG says:

    Bill from DC wrote:

    re B6, is the range of an A320 (3,200 nm) not sufficient to get from LGB to HNL?

    The A320′s definitely have the range, but as far as I know, none of B6′s airplanes are ETOPs equipped (and B6 isn’t an ETOPS certified operator)…

  22. CF says:

    Bill from DC wrote:

    re B6, is the range of an A320 (3,200 nm) not sufficient to get from LGB to HNL?

    Range isn’t the issue – it’s the overwater requirements that kill. Flying over long stretches of ocean with nothing around means that you need to load up with a ton of extra fuel. It’s that requirement that effectively kills the Airbus on that route.

  23. NM says:

    Is there a chance that the 757s will operate from east-coast airports like GSP? An interesting route would be GSP-LGB-HNL.

  24. Scott says:

    @ NM:

    G4 will have to start flying ‘test’ routings under ETOPS rules, but not actually over water, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see BLI-FLL or BLI-MCO/SFD as part of their testing.

  25. Oliver says:

    Looking at Seatguru, Allegiant crams their MD-80/83s full of 17″ wide seats with 30″ seat pitch.

    I’ve flown on a Suntrips charter to Hawaii once from SFO with similar seats, and it was pure torture. So I guess I’ll welcome Allegiant for hopefully helping keep the prices in check, but I’ll continue to fly in United’s Economy Plus seats.

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