Allegiant Air has helped stimulate some of the Tri-Cities Airport's record-breaking passenger growth during the past decade.
It's been nine years since Allegiant brought the airport in Pasco its first Las Vegas flight. Now, Allegiant offers Tri-Citians direct flights to Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa and Los Angeles.
Allegiant's push has been to work with communities to bring visitors to the airline's hometown of Las Vegas, said Ron Foraker, Tri-Cities Airport director.
The airline offers vacation getaway packages that include everything from car rentals to hotels.
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This past week, Allegiant celebrated its first ever flight from Fresno, Calif., to Las Vegas.
Allegiant's goal is to offer options for leisure travelers, said company spokeswoman Justin Ralenkotter. That's why they offer service to Las Vegas from Pasco year round and increase the number of flights and add other destinations during peak summer travel months.
There are no immediate plans to add flights or destinations in Pasco, he said. But the company does have a department dedicated to analyzing traffic patterns and demand, and depending on what they find, adding service is a possibility.
"We truly enjoy having their service," Foraker said. "The community and even the broader region enjoys being able to fly on Allegiant to those destinations that they serve."
And the company has seen some record growth. Allegiant is celebrating its first flight 15 years ago. The airline has grown to a fleet of 68 planes flying more than 7 million passengers among 99 cities as of last year.
Grace and Shawn Adams of Pasco were among the frequent Allegiant fliers recognized as part of Allegiant's anniversary celebration. They are among those spotlighted on the company's website.
The couple, who have lived in Pasco for 11 years, won a company contest to earn round-trip tickets and a hotel room for the Las Vegas celebration and complementary round-trip Allegiant tickets for a future trip.
Grace Adams said they use Allegiant to fly four to five times a year. Adams said they would still travel if Allegiant didn't offer Pasco service, but it likely would be more expensive and the direct flights also save time.
The Tri-Cities has been fortunate to generally have two to four flights a week to Las Vegas, Foraker said.
The Phoenix/Mesa market from the Tri-Cities also has done well, he said. And flights to Los Angeles offered during the past two summers seemed to work well for vacationing families.
The number of Pasco passengers headed to Las Vegas and Phoenix has increased, while the average fare cost has declined, Ralenkotter said. Nonstop flights to those destinations helped stimulate the demand.
Boardings to Las Vegas climbed from 10,300 passengers a year before Allegiant started offering Pasco flights to about 38,300 passengers in 2012, Ralenkotter said.
The average fare price for all airlines has gone from about $133 one way to about $91, he said.
And about 5,500 Pasco passengers were headed to Phoenix before Allegiant's service. In 2012, that grew to almost 23,000, he said. Average one-way airfare went from about $187 to $107.
One way Allegiant has been able to offer low fares is by using an a la cart pricing, so checking bags costs extra, Ralenkotter said.
Sondra Wilson, president of Travel Leaders Tri-Cities, said having Allegiant has given the community access to better fares, whether it is with Allegiant or a competitor.
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