Las Vegas-based airline Allegiant Air recently announced plans to end direct flights between Santa Barbara and Las Vegas. Although the airline is one of four offering service to Las Vegas from Santa Barbara Airport, it is the only one with direct flights. Even with passenger loads averaging 70 percent this past month, the company announced in a recent press release that it had to abandon the route “due to a lack of market demand.”

The carrier started its S.B.-Las Vegas direct flights May 22, 2008. The last day of such service from Santa Barbara Airport will be September 13, 2009. Customers with reservations on September 16 and beyond will be contacted directly by Allegiant for re-accommodations.

Allegiant Air plans to continue its direct flights between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles and Santa Maria airports. These flights average passenger-load rates of 80-90 percent.

Allegiant Air said it is unable to maintain routes with lower-than-average passenger loads, though some other airlines do so, and it also discontinued its route between Los Angeles and McAllen airport in Texas. In order to give its customers the best possible value, company spokespeople said, Allegiant maintains a low-cost, high-efficiency policy, working at a system-wide passenger load rate of about 90 percent. While this is quite an achievement, its passenger load rates do not tower over other airlines such as United Airline’s, whose system-wide passenger load rate is at 87 percent.

Despite the loss, Terri Gibson, public information officer for Santa Barbara Airport, is confident that this will not affect guests too much. “We are sorry to lose their service, especially after working so hard to get Allegiant here,” she said in a recent interview, “but we are already in the process of looking for an airline to take over the route.”

Meanwhile, amid all this commotion, Santa Barbara Airport has managed to gain an additional airline route to Los Angeles that will begin running on August 25.


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