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Allegiant to add aircraft, potential St. Pete-to-Mexico connections

Veronica Brezina

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The taxiway at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. Photo: James Borchuck.

Allegiant Air, the dominant airline serving the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, plans to add hundreds of new aircraft and more nonstop connections. 

Today, the low-cost carrier offers over 60 nonstop flights from PIE, including connections to Canada and future links to Mexico. 

“We go into small to midsize markets that are underserved. By virtue, many of the folks we are bringing to the St. Pete-Clearwater area would have no other direct way to get here,” Allegiant CMO Scott DeAngelo said during a Wednesday Pinellas County Tourist Development Council meeting. 

PIE is a top roundtrip market for Allegiant, ranking behind Las Vegas and close in line with the Orlando Sanford International Airport. 

“I would argue that it [PIE] is not only one of the top [markets], but it’s the one with the greatest upside,” DeAneglo said. “The fact that we are flying 1.2 million passengers here a year and flying 1.2 million outbound, it makes this the perfect market to continue to expand in because it’s not like say Las Vegas where on any given Friday, you may have a full plane coming from Stockton, California to Las Vegas but not fly with Las Vagas [travelers] wanting to spend a weekend in Stockton … we need balance.” 

Allegiant sells directly to consumers, differentiating itself from airlines that promote flights through travel services companies such as Expedia and Booking.com. 

The airline serves 91 cities, providing 572 routes, of which 449 represent cities without a competing airline connection. 

“We have a variety of strategic initiatives, but none probably stand close to impacting PIE more than our joint venture with VivaAerobus,” he said. 

In 2021, Allegiant announced a joint venture with Mexican airline VivaAerobus to connect domestic travelers to popular Mexican beaches; however, this year, U.S. regulators suspended the review of a joint venture over concerns as there are reportedly “outstanding questions relating to the continued implementation of the U.S.-Mexico air transportation agreement.”

The partnership hinges on approval from the Mexican Federal Economic Competition Commission and the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Despite the setback, DeAngelo said he hopes the government agencies will soon resolve the issues. If the partnership agreement moves forward, Allegiant will announce the exact routes and ticket sales after a 90-day period. 

There would be potential connections to renowned vacation destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. 

“This would usher in an entirely new customer set from Mexico to St. Pete-Clearwater,” DeAngelo said. 

As part of Allegiant’s $908 million programmed 2023 capital expenditures, nearly half the budget is dedicated towards new aircraft acquisitions and induction costs. 

The airline has 127 aircraft in its fleet and will start welcoming Boeing 737-7 and 737-8-200 planes by the end of this year. In 2024, Allegiant will have 140 new Boeing planes and 154 the following year, replacing many of the airline’s Airbus models. 

“As we modernize our fleet, the overall product will get better,” DeAngelo said. He noted how the upgraded aircraft fleet will increase reliability while simultaneously burn less fuel. 

Other airline expenditures represent a big chunk of the budget. Allegiant will spend $142 million on operating frontline systems and technological advancements. 

“We all know what happened with Southwest [Airlines] last December,” he said, referencing the failure in Southwest’s scheduling software that resulted in the cancellation of 16,700 flights.

The cancellation affected more than 2 million passengers. 

“We have spent a lot [of the budget] to modernize our core systems whether it’s reservation management, back of office, finance, accounting and maintenance systems, to really just have everything that’s the latest and greatest,” DeAngelo said. 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    John Donovan

    October 18, 2023at3:21 pm

    St Petersburg is a boomtown

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