Allegiant Set to Open a New Base at Los Angeles International (LAX)

Allegiant, LAX - Los Angeles

Reliable sources tell me that Allegiant will announce in the coming days that its Allegiant Coming to LAXnew “sun destination” is LAX. With the exception of its original base in Las Vegas, Allegiant has specialized in turning secondary airports into big funnels for people traveling from small towns to resort areas. It appears that strategy is going to see a slight alteration with this move, and I look forward to seeing how it performs.

All Allegiant is saying publicly is that it will open a new base to a “sun destination” with initial service to twelve cities, and they’re running a contest for everyone to guess what destination that may be. The twelve cities are:

  • Bellingham (Washington)
  • Billings (Montana)
  • Des Moines (Iowa)
  • Fargo (North Dakota)
  • Grand Junction (Colorado)
  • McAllen (Texas)
  • Medford (Oregon)
  • Missoula (Montana)
  • Monterey (California)
  • Sioux Falls (South Dakota)
  • Springfield (Missouri)
  • Wichita (Kansas)

My initial thought was that it would be San Diego, but that was proven wrong when the airport manager in Sioux Falls let it slip that it would be to the LA area. At that point, I figured Allegiant would try the currently empty San Bernardino Airport since those guys would likely pay Allegiant to fly there. But recently, I learned that LAX would actually be the chosen airport.

This surprises me, and not for the reasons you might think. Allegiant has shown that it isn’t afraid of flying to larger airports. Obviously Las Vegas is one, but they’ve also recently ventured on to routes like Bellingham to Oakland and San Diego. As long as there’s a smaller airport on one end, it shouldn’t be an issue.

What does surprise me is that flying out of LAX means they’ll be entering routes that already have nonstop service. Monterey is served by United and American and Medford is served by Horizon. Allegiant historically has not liked to go head to head with other airlines, so this is an interesting move, assuming it proves to be true.

There’s no question that bringing people from small towns to LA a couple times a week could be a lucrative business, and I think there’s a very good chance that Allegiant can be successful with this move. Their unique model has shown that it can work with a handful of tweaks to it, and I don’t see why this tweak won’t be successful. I will, however, be closely watching those towns with competing nonstop service to see if the incumbent airlines feel the need to respond or not. That will probably make or break those routes.

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42 comments on “Allegiant Set to Open a New Base at Los Angeles International (LAX)

  1. I’m with you, I figured they’d go with one of the smaller airports in that area (i.e. Palmdale is vacant). Hopefully this works out for Allegiant.

  2. There are a ton of routes to LAX that would work and currently have no competition. It is the biggest destination in the basin, has a ton of demand and given how low Allegiant’s fares are, could serve as a conduit for connections to other carriers to Hawaii, Asia or beyond, certainly not a big slice of demand, but a potential bonus. Allegiant’s presentation last year listed LAX as a possible site. The Monterey route would only compete against small props, which is the only competition they have really ever encountered out of Vegas.

  3. DSM-LAX on UA didn’t last long, it never had a chance with the fare structure that was in place. A person could fly the route for less than half the $$$ by making a stop in DEN.

    I think Allegiant will do really well there, will be interesting to see the schedules.

  4. LAX-MRY, not exactly good news for United Express.

    LAX-Bellingham(SEA/YVR) will be sure to spark a major fare war as the G4 pricing is sure to push LAX-SEA/YVR fares plummeting, again not exactly good news for the other airlines in the market.

    Excellent new for people on the Los Angeles and originating ends of these flights, bad news for the airlines that are already in financial peril with the economy.

  5. Karl – I think it’s important to remember that we’re only talking a couple of flights a week here. I imagine that LAX-Monterey on United Express is mostly connecting traffic, so this shouldn’t compete much. Also, LAX to the Pac NW would not be a wise place for Alaska to match fares. Alaska has probably three times the number of flights per day that Allegiant will have in a week.

  6. LAX-Bellingham(SEA/YVR) will be sure to spark a major fare war as the G4 pricing is sure to push LAX-SEA/YVR fares plummeting, again not exactly good news for the other airlines in the market.

    Um, fares going SEA-LAX are pretty cheap right now anyway, thanks to VX- $59 each way. G4 is going to have a hard time underpricing that.

    That, and BLI is 90 miles out of SEA- it’s much more taking customers from YVR than SEA. Now, here’s the thing: PAE (Everett) may become a QX/G4 base before too long- basically, the local authorities there were told by the FAA “you can either let commercial carriers offer service at PAE, or you can repay us the many millions of dollars we gave you for that airfield”. The idea is they will build a minimal terminal there capable of handling some Q400s/MD80s and a handful of flights a day, but cap the service by not building extensive facilities (a quasi-slot system- the law says they have to have allow commercial service, but they do NOT have to offer growth opportunities, so if they operate a tiny facility paid for by carrier fees, they can cap growth).

  7. Maybe it will be Ontario as that’s the L.A. area also. There would be room since expressjet left the airport. No nonstops to any of those cities out of ONT.

  8. David – Fargo is actually one of the larger population centers that Allegiant flies to with a metro area of 200k and closer to 300k if you include Grand Forks (70miles away) which Allegiant would draw from. The only cities listed that are larger than Fargo are Wichita, Des Moines and McAllen. Sioux Falls is nearly identical in size. Seems to me that Fargo is the ideal place for Allegiant to fly out of.

  9. i still think it is going to be san bernardino. vegas is one thing, but lax has an average of 10 more operations/hr. than vegas, and one messed up airfield configuration. i’m still going for san bernardino

  10. 1st. You thoughts of SAN were a little interesting considering G4 said it would be a NEW destination.. of which G4 already serves San Diego.

    David as for LAX-FAR, put it this way G4 and NW both used to fly LAS-FAR nonstop and were ver successful, NW dropped the LAS focus city when they returned several A319’s during bankruptcy. The city of fargo as of the 2000 census was 174,367, now add in West Fargo 23,081 and Moorhead (which is just on the MN side of the river of 35,329 you get a total of 232,777. Microsoft has thier second largest campus there after Seattle, Grand Forks/East Grand Forks 70 miles away (which has G4 service to LAS, and NW service to MSP 5x daily) has 65,000 people. G4 has done very well with their LAS service in Grand Forks, thanks to canadian traffic which it could easily pull with the right fares as due to taxes flying from Canada to the US is very expensive.

    Reason’s Ontario won’t work is it has a shorter runway and does have a noise curfew of which often times the MD-80 could violate.

  11. David SF eastbay – I tend to think the biggest problem with Ontario isn’t the availability of space but rather the high costs. Operations are much more expensive at Ontario than LAX thanks to a relatively new terminal and rapidly declining traffic counts. I can’t imagine Allegiant would go into a relatively high cost airport like that.

    Chris – There are a lot of games you can play with words. They said it will be a new destination, but maybe “destination” means base in their language, so it’s just saying that they’re creating a new base at an existing city. Obviously I don’t believe that anymore, but there’s no reason those words had to be interpreted so literally.

    Also, as Sam says, Ontario has no curfew and long runways. I’m assuming you’re confusing it with Orange County or Burbank, both of which have short runways and differing levels of curfews.

  12. I don’t think it will be LAX, I think it will be SBA; and here’s why;

    – to someone outside of the west coast (Sioux Falls), SBA would be considered “LA Area”
    – it’s not SAN or OAK, because they say new service, and BLI-SAN is existing
    – Allegiant already have advertising up on their website for “Santa Barbara Hotels”. Considering their only existing route from SBA is LAS, why would they need to advertising for SBA hotels?
    – I can’t see them doing MRY-LAX when there’s already a couple of established airlines.

    As for someone saying that Fargo is one of the larger population areas they serve, BLI has it beat by a factor of 10:1. While Whatcom county has a pop of only about 60k, metro Vancouver and its 2 million people are just across the border. Check out the parking lot at BLI, it’s all BC plates (it’s an hour flat from my house in Vancouver to checkin at BLI).

    And yes, G4 can drive someone out of a market. AS684 YVR-LAS was put of out business by G4’s BLI-LAS 3x daily.

  13. I can’t believe that they will go to LAX. The costs there are as high as any other airport. If you aren’t getting stuck on landing fees, or space rents, you are stuck by the “living wage”, which requires that airlines, handlers, service companies at LAX and ONT (controlled by LAWA) pay a wage that is not a market wage but an inflated minimum wage. Those guys at Allegiant are known to be cheap SOG’s.

    SBO (San Bernardino) has been begging for an airline, it’s even willing to pay someone to go there (or at least cover it’s costs). SBO has been saying that they have an airline in the wings…it fits Allegiant’s model, much the same as Mesa airport does in Phoenix. Sunny destination, close to a metro area and an airport that will do ANYTHING to get you there.

    We will see next week….Feb 18

  14. I hate to be a pessimest, but some bets are best left alone – and this is one of them. LAX could be attractive if an airline looked to provide feeds to international traffic. Allegiant is not that airline. Those high load factors that Allegiant is good at will be tough to do profitably at LAX. Stick to what you do best.

  15. Fargo’s been a good market for Allegiant. I’d be curious how they’re affecting operations by Delta/NWA, UAL and Frontier.

  16. Allen, I don’t think it really has affected much if any, sure it might take a few flyers going to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Orlando, and now maybe LA, but the majority is untouched with the large Frequent Flyer base in Fargo and Allegiant flies to those destinations less than daily. Northwest still flies 8 flights a day to the twin cities 700 daily seats, united 7 flights a day (albiet all on CRJ-200’s) 3x to DEN and 4x to ORD 350 daily seats, Frontier flies 2 daily flights to denver with 140 seats, the combined NW/DL when DL starts will fly 9 daily flights, 8x to MSP and 1x to SLC.

  17. Does Allegiant do charters at SBD?

    The reason I ask is that I saw an Allegiant towbar on the side of the old converted hangar today. I work at SBN but don’t remember ever seeing one of their planes.

  18. Lil’ Elvis – It wouldn’t surprise me. I see them at LGB at least once a month, but I don’t have any personal knowledge of SBD. That being said, I would be very surprised if they kept a towbar at the airport for that purpose.

  19. Very interesting if it plays out…given the gate shuffle going on at LAX, there is ‘for rent’ space popping up all over…so airside constraints are not a problem. One thing that is also significant is that a few of those markets (DSM,FSD,FAR) have significant financial and agri-business ties to the LA basin & SoCal in general, that NWA has exploited for years. Yes, I know G4 is a “leisure” airline…but as corporate travel budgets shrink, could they be putting their toe in the business travel market????

  20. What about Palomar / Carlsbad?

    It just got a brand new terminal and only is served by United Express. (Of course, it’s also very close to SAN …

  21. Eric – That would surprise me. The second they step into the corporate market, the big guys will be sure to respond. They thrive by not competing. Even if they do go head to head on LAX to Monterey, they’ll still only fly it a couple times a week. So if they did start going for corporate travel, they might risk retaliation.

    David – I think I can confidently say that won’t happen. They do finally have a new terminal (I flew into the old double wide several years ago), but their sub-5000 foot runway can’t handle an MD80. On top of that, the community wouldn’t stand for it either. It would probably be a good spot for them, but it just won’t happen.

  22. David – I love your thought! CLD is 5 miles away from me. Locals who live around there would never let it happen, however. That noise thing – especially with the MD 80s.

  23. Its gotta be SBD. If you look on thier website, they posted an RFP in December 2008 for an airport operations contractor. SBD said in thier RFP that passenger air service opertions will commence in the first half of 2009 with 5 to 7 daily departures. According to another website, PE, there was a lot of construction activity going on at SBD on Feb 12.

    SBD fits thier business model, LAX doesn’t. Its gotta be SBD.

  24. Both Burbank and John Wayne have operational restrictions or slot allocations that prevent Allegiant from setting up a base there. I would be very surprised if it was one of these two airports.

  25. <<< does the im right dance lol

    the DSM,FSD and ICT markets are business traffic…im tellin y’all! This is epic.

  26. Former Employee – The Fayetteville airport closed when Northwest Arkansas (aka Bentonville, aka XNA) opened. So you might be confusing some of your information. Also, the XNA to LAX route was already announced.

  27. Well it was not SBD but they are about 90% done with their terminal and SBD (theirs a sign that reads “Welcome to Southern California”) said they are currently talking with one airline hey it might be allegaint air again? SBD would of been and would always be the perfect airport for allegaint airlines, hopefully they realize that soon!

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