Reliable sources tell me that Allegiant will announce in the coming days that its new “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.