Allegiant dominates two of its four Florida ‘focus cities’; capacity control means year-round high load factors

The start of a new service from “a small town airport like ours.” Here our colleague, the great, and sadly late, Tony Seaton (1957-2008) of Huntingtonnews.net, reports on St Petersburg’s new Allegiant service to Huntington Tri-State, West Virginia, last year: “St Pete’s is a smallish airport like ours – and that’s the way Allegiant likes it…”

Allegiant Air, analysed at the beginning of both this year and last and frequently appearing in anna.aero with new route launches, has four of its eight ‘focus cities’ located in Florida. The airline’s strategy of bringing American holidaymakers from regional airports in colder, northern climates to sunshine in the south seems to fit in well with Florida’s tourist appeal, as the services keep achieving high load factors.

Map: Allegiant routes
A route network divided between east and west: Florida is served from the eastern half of the country only, while the western bases’ routes cover a greater part of the continent.

Only one of the Allegiant airports in Florida, Fort Lauderdale, is among the “big 7” analysed in this week’s Florida study. The airline does, however, only offer five routes out of the airport. Even smaller is the focus city of Punta Gorda, which started earlier this year. It merely offers two Allegiant routes to Greenville in South Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee. These two airports are the only ones to be served from all four of Allegiant’s Florida airports.

Image: Cheap check-in, and a nice under-served market. Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda, FL. Photo: Robert Shainline.
Cheap check-in, and a nice under-served market. Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda, Florida. Photo: Robert Shainline.
Chart: Allegiant’s focus cities Number of routes offered
Source: Airline webpage for November 2009

Allegiant’s largest route offering from Florida is from its Orlando Sanford base, the airline’s second largest after Las Vegas. St. Petersburg-Clearwater in the Tampa Bay area shares the third place in terms of the number of routes offered, however, the airline offers a higher number of services on its Phoenix-Mesa routes.

Image: Allegiant at Phoenix Mesa
Just look at that sea – among others “St. Petersburg-Clearwater” is home to Caladesi Island State Park, America’s No. 1-rated beach. System-wide “St Pete” shares the third place with Allegiant’s just-expanded Phoenix-Mesa in terms of the number of routes offered. (See Phoenix-Mesa/Allegiant story.)

March the most popular month; hurricane season September the least

Chart: Monthly traffic
Source: US BTS

Both in 2008 and for the months reported so far this year, March is the busiest period for Allegiant’s Florida services. This is probably linked to the traditonal “Spring break”, a time when students head for Florida to enjoy themselves in a variety of ways. The drastically reduced passenger numbers for September, during the midst of the hurricane season, is not reflected in the airline’s load factors. In fact, as a result of reduced operations, an 89% load factor was achieved for September’s overall Florida services last year (Source: US BTS), which is identical to the average for all-year 2008 as well as the first seven reported months this year. Allegiant’s Fort Lauderdale services did, however, experience a decline in September.

Chart: Load factors

Split by focus city, the load factors reveal that Fort Lauderdale last year struggled to attract the same loads as Allegiant’s other Florida destinations. This year, the services out of the airport have, however, been optimised to generate higher load factors.

Image: Route Launch
The northern-most destination gets launched (with balloons). Bangor (Maine) airport director Rebecca Hupp and Allegiant Air sales director John Fanyes announce a new twice weekly service to St. Petersburg-Clearwater starting 20th November. Allegiant has also operated Orlando Sanford-Bangor services since November 2007 – initially as twice weekly but rising to daily in summer. “Our service to Orlando has been tremendously successful and we’re certain our flights to St. Petersburg will be just as successful,” said Fanyes. We are grateful to the Bangor Daily News and Gabor Degre for this photo.

Allegiant’s leading position as a low-fare airline is reflected in the average fares reported at its Florida focus cities. For the second quarter this year, Allegiant dominated Orlando Sanford’s average fare was a mere $74, the lowest among 120 reporting US airports (Source: US DOT Office of Aviation Analysis). A close runner-up, in 119th place is the equally Allegiant dominated St. Petersburg-Clearwater with an average fare of $77. Fort Lauderdale, where Allegiant only has a minor market share, ranks in 107th place at almost the double average fare of $143.


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