PASCO -- It's official: Tri-Citians will be able to fly directly to Los Angeles from Pasco for less.
Allegiant Air, which prides itself as a low-cost airline, announced Wednesday that it will offer round-trip, nonstop flights from Pasco to Los Angeles twice a week beginning June 3.
The airline is offering introductory fares of $60 each way plus taxes and fees on the new route for tickets bought by April 28 for travel up to Sept. 30. Regular fares for one-way travel will be $80 plus taxes and other charges.
The flights will leave the Tri-Cities Airport at 10:20 a.m. and arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 12:40 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays. Return flights will leave from L.A. at 7:20 a.m. and arrive at 9:40 a.m. in Pasco on the same days.
The new flight will increase low-cost travel options, particularly for leisure travelers, said Jim Morasch, director of the Tri-Cities Airport. Allegiant Air already flies nonstop from the Tri-Cities to Las Vegas and Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
The service to L.A. is a great win for the community, said Carl Adrian, president and CEO of the Tri-City Development Council. Adding a flight at a time when many communities are losing air service is positive for the Tri-Cities, he said.
With two more weekly flights on Allegiant's 150-seat, MD-80 series jet aircraft, Pasco's passenger boardings, which have lately seen an increase, can be expected to go up more, Morasch said.
Passenger boardings in March totaled 24,405 -- up from 19,625 during March last year.
Morasch said the new flight will help draw travelers from the neighboring communities looking to travel to Southern California, the third most popular destination -- behind Seattle and Washington, D.C. -- for those flying out of Pasco.
Allegiant's business model, which includes offering low airfare and convenient vacation packages, tends to encourage travelers to fly more often, said Portland-based aviation consultant Jack Penning, who's with Sixel Consulting Group.
Allegiant typically connects smaller metro areas with bigger metro areas with inexpensive, nonstop flights, Penning said. This model has worked well for the airline and helped it expand services in various communities, he said.
The new Allegiant flight will put "pricing pressure on the other airlines" to reduce fares between Pasco and L.A., he said. Some business travelers also may find the new Pasco-L.A. flight schedule to be more useful than a single-day return flight, he added.
More direct flights from the Tri-Cities may even help bring national conventions to the area, said Kim Shugart, vice president of operations for the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau.
The company also announced this week the start of similar services from Idaho Falls and Eugene, Ore.
For more information and to make a reservation, go to www.allegiantair.com or call 702-505-8888.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com