Allegiant Air adding 3 cities, 22 routes

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air announced one of the largest expansions in its history on Tuesday, adding three cities to its map and 22 new nonstop routes.

Most of the expansion is in Allegiant’s eastern region, but Las Vegas will see flights to two new destinations — Sonoma, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M.

It’s the first scheduled air service between Las Vegas and Sonoma, which is in the heart of California wine country. Allegiant will compete with Southwest Airlines, which offers an average of four flights per day on the Albuquerque route.

The low-cost airline announced the routes with a giveaway of $1 million in free travel.

“Expanding to new cities and offering new routes is a great way for us to grow our brand of convenient, low-cost travel for millions of travelers,” said chief operating officer Jude Bricker in a statement announcing the routes.

“By offering $1 million worth of free flights, we’re hoping to make a lasting and impactful connection with thousands of travelers by creating opportunities that will fulfill a personal need or desire and result in an unforgettable Allegiant experience,” he said.

Allegiant has produced several unforgettable experiences for the wrong reasons in recent months.

Last summer, the airline had at least 16 flight diversions and delays to or from Las Vegas as a result of mechanical issues with its aging fleet. Similar occurrences have been reported in Allegiant’s Florida destinations in late 2015 and early 2016.

The Federal Aviation Administration has increased its scrutiny of the airline, but regulators have never penalized Allegiant. The company has never had a fatal accident and maintains that safety is its top priority.

The aggravation that some passengers experience is a result of Allegiant’s scheduling strategy. It can keep fares low by flying a schedule of two or three flights a week to a destination, but that means there are few options for passengers when a mechanical issue occurs.

Allegiant will begin flights to Sonoma beginning May 19 and to Albuquerque on June 2. Both will operate twice weekly on Sundays and Thursdays.

Allegiant also is announcing a third new city, Evansville, Ind., but will fly there from Orlando’s Sanford International Airport.

The airline is adding four routes each from Orlando, Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Jacksonville, Fla., three from Myrtle Beach, S.C.; two from Los Angeles International Airport and one each from New Orleans, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas.

One of the Los Angeles routes, beginning June 9, will serve Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Several of the routes are seasonal, but the Las Vegas and Reno flights are year-round.

The airline’s giveaway will reward the first 22 travelers who book flights on the 22 new routes. They’ll get refunds for travel, including the fare and all airfare-related ancillary fees paid.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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