Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Allegiant’s next Rickenbacker destination: Jacksonville

Jacksonville today becomes Allegiant Air’s eighth destination from Columbus’ Rickenbacker Airport and its fifth in Florida.

Tickets are scheduled to go on sale today on the airline’s website, allegiantair.com, with fares starting at $47 one way.

Flights will start May 25 with the seasonal service scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 13.

Since starting service at Rickenbacker four years ago, Allegiant has grown steadily with a mix of year-round and seasonal routes from the former Air Force base. The airline typically flies between two and five times a week to warm-weather destinations and specializes in vacation packages.

Its January traffic was up 38.5 percent at the airport, based on a 35.7 percent increase in flights. It served 11,265 passengers in January, the most recent month for which figures are available.

That’s not a large number compared with the major airlines that fly at Port Columbus. The smallest of the major carriers at Port Columbus — United — carried 67,878 passengers in January. But Allegiant’s numbers are significant for Rickenbacker, which for years had only a handful of seasonal and charter passenger flights.

Like most of the other airports Allegiant flies to from Rickenbacker, the Jacksonville International Airport is not served nonstop by any other carrier in Columbus.

Fort Lauderdale is its only destination currently served by another carrier, with nonstop flights from Southwest Airlines from Port Columbus.

The Jacksonville area was last served with nonstop service from Columbus by Skybus Airlines, when it briefly flew to St. Augustine before Skybus ceased operations in 2008.

“Jacksonville is a popular destination for Ohio travelers, and we are thrilled that Allegiant will be offering the first and only nonstop flight from Columbus to Jacksonville from Rickenbacker,” said Elaine Roberts, president and CEO of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. “Allegiant continues to add more destinations to the already impressive list of vacation spots and we expect the new Jacksonville route to yield positive results as well.”

Michael Boyd, president of Colorado-based aviation consulting firm Boyd Group International, said Allegiant “creates their own traffic. There’s not a huge demand for service to Jacksonville, but they promote low fares and get people who otherwise wouldn’t travel at all to buy vacation packages and take a trip.”

Original article can be found here:  http://www.dispatch.com

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