Allegiant Air plans to enter the Austin market with non-stop service to Las Vegas starting this fall, giving Central Texans a new air travel option.
Executives with the Nevada-based airline will make the announcement at a news conference Tuesday, the American-Statesman has learned.
The first Allegiant Air flight is set to depart Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Oct. 31, the company said. Initial plans call for four flights each week.
Introductory fares for the Las Vegas flights will start at $59.99 each way, a price designed to appeal to the budget-conscious, but a host of optional fees for everything from checked baggage to advanced seat selection could push prices higher.
Booking a flight via phone instead of online, for instance, costs $14.99 per passenger, per segment, according to the airline’s website, allegiant.com. The fee for carry-on bags can go as high as $75. (One personal item, such as a small backpack, briefcase, purse or laptop is allowed at no charge.) Priority boarding is available for $5, while snacks and drinks start at $1.99.
The goal, Allegiant Travel Co. President Andrew Levy said, is to allow passengers to maximize their savings by customizing their trips.
“We unbundle the air product, empowering our customers to choose the amenities they value and want to pay for,” he told the American-Statesman. “If a passenger doesn’t need a service, we don’t think they should have to pay for it. Unbundling the product allows passengers to make that choice.”
While Southwest Airlines already offers nonstop service from Austin to Las Vegas, Levy says he doesn’t view the Texas-based carrier as a competitor.
“Our customer is not someone who is traveling to Vegas all the time on another carrier,” he said. “Our customer is someone who never thought they could afford a Vegas vacation — and we want to show them they can.”
Allegiant Air also gives travelers the option to purchase discounted admission for Vegas shows, as well as reduced-price car rentals and hotel stays.
“We recognize that the leisure traveler is very price sensitive, so our whole business is laser-focused on keeping costs down in order to offer our customers the lowest possible base fare,” Levy said. ” We’ve been able to keep our average base fare under $100, while remaining one of the most profitable airlines in the U.S.”
All Central Texas travelers — not just those on a budget — stand to benefit from Allegiant Air’s arrival, said Doug Driskill, head of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’s Air Services Task Force.
“We welcome Allegiant to Austin,” he said. “Expanding air service and landing new air carriers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport spurs local economic growth.”
Allegiant Air serves almost 100 U.S. destinations, many of them smaller cities that previously had been served only by commuter airlines. It has operations bases in about a dozen cities, including Bellingham, Wash; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Oakland, Calif.
Initially, Las Vegas will be the only city served from Austin, but the opportunity for growth certainly exists, Levy said.
“Some of the other destinations in our network, such as L.A., Phoenix and Orlando are definitely popular vacation destinations for Austin travelers,” he said. “We’re going to start with Las Vegas, and we’ll keep the possibility for other destinations open, but there aren’t any specific plans on the horizon.” ___