Allegiant Air is an American low-cost airline that operates scheduled
and charter flights. The 9th largest commercial airline in the US, it
is wholly owned by Allegiant Travel Company (NASDAQ: ALGT), a
publicly traded company with 3,700 employees and over $2.6 billion USD
market capitalization. The corporate headquarters are in Summerlin,
Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas.
1.1 Early years (1997-2000)
1.2 Restructuring (2001-02)
1.3 Expansion (2006-08)
2 Corporate affairs
2.2 Business model
2.3 Ancillary revenue
2.4 Charter flights
2.6 Criticism of the business model
2.7 Criticism of workers' right to organize
2.8 Safety concerns
4 Top markets
5.1 Fleet development
7 Awards and recognition
9 External links
Early years (1997-2000)
Boeing 757-200 at Los Angeles International Airport
Allegiant Air was founded in January 1997 by Mitch Allee (owner, CEO),
Jim Patterson (president) and Dave Beadle (chief pilot), under the
WestJet Express. After losing a trademark dispute with West
Jet Air Center of
Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota and recognizing the name's
WestJet Airlines of Canada, the airline adopted the name
Allegiant Air and received FAA and DOT certification for scheduled and
charter domestic operations on June 19, 1998. The airline also has
authority for charter service to
Canada and Mexico.
Scheduled service began on October 15, 1998, between
Las Vegas and the
airline's original hub in Fresno, California, at the Fresno Yosemite
International Airport, with Douglas DC-9-21 and McDonnell Douglas
DC-9-51 jetliners. During the second half of 1999, the airline was
operating nonstop flights between Fresno and Las Vegas, Burbank and
Lake Tahoe, and
Las Vegas and
Lake Tahoe as well as flying one-stop
direct service between Fresno and
Lake Tahoe via Las Vegas. Shortly
WinAir Airlines closed in 1999,
Allegiant Air opened a small hub
Long Beach, CA
Long Beach, CA (LGB) and in 2000 was operating nonstop flights to
Las Vegas in addition to Fresno-
Las Vegas nonstop
service. Later in 2000, Allegiant continued to expand and was
operating the only nonstop jet service between
Lake Tahoe Airport from
Long Beach in addition to operating new flights into Portland, Oregon
Reno with Portland-
Reno and Reno-Fresno nonstops and direct
one-stop service between Portland and Fresno via Reno. However,
Allegiant was unable to bring in enough revenue to cover its costs and
on December 13, 2000, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The bankruptcy allowed Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., one of the airline's
major creditors, to gain control of the business. A veteran leader of
low-cost airlines, Gallagher had worked with
WestAir and as CEO of
ValuJet Airlines; his tenure included the Flight 592 tragedy. In June
2001, Gallagher restructured Allegiant to a low-cost model, focusing
on smaller markets that larger airlines did not serve with mainline
aircraft. Now chief executive officer and chairman, he moved the
headquarters and operations to Las Vegas.
In March 2002, Allegiant exited bankruptcy and entered into a
long-term contract with Harrah's to provide charter services to its
casinos in Laughlin and Reno, Nevada. At the same time, the airline
acquired its first
McDonnell Douglas MD-80
McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jetliner. From 2002 through
2004, the airline developed its scheduled-service business model. By
2004, Allegiant was flying from 13 small cities to
Las Vegas offering
bundled air and hotel packages.
In November 2006, Allegiant filed a registration statement with the
Securities and Exchange Commission in anticipation of a planned
initial public offering of its Common Stock. It is listed on the
NASDAQ Stock Market under the ticker symbol "ALGT".
On October 25, 2007, the airline opened a fourth focus city and
operations base at
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona,
connecting 13 cities already served by Allegiant and one new city to
the Phoenix metropolitan area. The airport announced a
10,000-square-foot (930 m2) expansion in August 2008, which
increased the number of gates from two to four and allowed Allegiant
to triple the number of flights from Phoenix. The expansion was funded
by a loan from Allegiant which will be repaid by passenger fees.
On November 14, 2007, Allegiant opened its fifth focus city and
operations base at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport,
connecting other Allegiant cities to South Florida.
In January 2008, Allegiant opened its sixth base at Washington's
Bellingham International Airport. The airline bases two McDonnell
Douglas MD-80 aircraft in Bellingham as part of the expansion.
Routes served exclusively from Bellingham include Las Vegas, Palm
Springs, San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix. Expansion in Bellingham
has been largely driven by its proximity to Vancouver, British
On July 1, 2010 Allegiant returned to
Long Beach Airport
Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long
Beach, California having previously served LGB with DC-9 jets with
nonstop flights to
Las Vegas (LAS) and
Lake Tahoe (TVL) in
2000. The airline also intended to fly from Bellingham
International Airport and Stockton several times a week; however,
there is no service at present flown between these two cities although
Allegiant continues to serve Stockton with flights to Las Vegas,
Phoenix/Mesa and San Diego.
In February 2010, Allegiant opened its ninth base at Grand Rapids'
Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Michigan. The airline based
McDonnell Douglas MD-80
McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft in Grand Rapids, but ended their
airport's status as a hub in 2011. The airline continues to fly out of
Grand Rapids in a reduced capacity.
In March 2010, Allegiant purchased six used
Boeing 757-200 jetliners
as part of plans to begin flights to Hawaii, with deliveries from
early 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011. It gained the approval
for type with the FAA in July 2011, and then worked with the FAA
to obtain the appropriate
ETOPS rating in order to be able to serve
Hawaii. Allegiant currently operates nonstop
Boeing 757 service to
Honolulu from Las Vegas.
In November 2011, Allegiant closed its Long Beach facility and
consolidated all Los Angeles area flights at Los Angeles International
In 2014, Cincinnati became Allegiant's largest O&D (Origination
& Destination) city, with over 11 destinations and 40 weekly
departures. This has grown to 17 destinations and 63 weekly flights as
of summer 2017.
In summer 2015, a rash of midair breakdowns drew federal scrutiny.
"Before the night was finished on June 25, 2015, five Allegiant
flights had been interrupted in four hours, all because different
planes had failed in midair," reported the
Tampa Bay Times. Since
October 2015, the
Federal Aviation Authority
Federal Aviation Authority has kept Allegiant under
close supervision. In July 2015,
Allegiant Air announced
bases would be established at the
Asheville Regional Airport
Asheville Regional Airport and
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, becoming the first
base at a non-vacation destination.
In August 2017, Allegiant announced a new base would be established at
the Indianapolis International Airport. The base is set to begin
operations in early 2018. In February 2018, Allegiant also announced a
new base would be established at the Destin–Fort Walton Beach
Allegiant Air logo used from 2003 to 2010
The corporate headquarters are in Summerlin, Nevada, a master-planned
community in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada.
Allegiant Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 in old livery
Allegiant aims primarily to serve leisure travelers, particularly
those in colder northern climates, going to warm-weather tourist
destinations such as Punta Gorda, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, Orlando, Los
Angeles and Phoenix. It also serves smaller destinations that see
few direct flights by major carriers. Many of the airline's markets,
such as Peoria, Illinois, are served only by commuter service
requiring a connection at an airline hub. In October 2009,
Allegiant had competition on just five of its 136 routes.
Although it does not fly to Canada, Allegiant advertises extensively
there and flies from about a dozen small airports near the Canada–US
border. Many of its customers at airports such as Bellingham,
Washington (BLI), Niagara Falls, New York (IAG), Ogdensburg, New York
(OGS), Grand Forks, North Dakota (GFK) and Plattsburgh, New York (PBG)
are Canadians, who can save money by flying from U.S. airports.
To keep ticket prices relatively low, Allegiant offers a lower
frequency of flights and no amenities such as frequent flier points or
It prefers to use smaller/secondary airports where landing fees cost
less, such as Orlando Sanford International Airport. At Phoenix-Mesa
Gateway Airport, Allegiant is now the only carrier. However, since
2015, Allegiant has been growing at major airports, such as
Cincinnati, Memphis, Raleigh/Durham, Indianapolis, and San Antonio.
Allegiant already flies into many major airports, including McCarran
International (Las Vegas) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International
Airport. In June 2013, Allegiant deviated from this strategy with
plans to compete with
Southwest Airlines by offering direct flights
Las Vegas and Austin, a medium hub served by 10 carriers with
non-stop routes to over 40 destinations. The airline also flies less
frequently compared to the major airlines, operating routes two or
three times per week. That requires fewer crews and allows less
time-pressured aircraft maintenance.
In February 2011, Allegiant proposed to sell two types of tickets to
passengers: advance tickets at a fixed higher rate and
time-of-departure tickets that cost less but may have fees added based
on the price of aviation fuel. In 2012, the U.S. Department of
Transportation banned the practice as part of wider regulations that
also require taxes and fees to be included in airfares. Allegiant,
Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines, sued the DOT to
overturn these new rules. The United States Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the DOT on 24 July
2012 and the US Supreme Court denied certiorari on 1 April
Like Ryanair, the low-cost airline founded by the Ryan family of
Ireland, who also have invested in Allegiant, the airline seeks
ancillary revenue to supplement ticket revenue. These ancillary
fees include those for checking luggage, carrying on luggage (other
than a small personal item), buying food and drinks on board,
obtaining advance seat assignments, and more. Allegiant
CEO Maurice Gallagher said in 2009, "We collect $110 from you at the
end of your trip. If I tried to charge you $110 up front, you wouldn't
pay it. But if I sell you a $75 ticket and you self-select the rest,
Allegiant also earns commissions by offering hotel rooms, car rentals
and admission to tourist attractions on its website. It sells package
vacations under the brand name Allegiant Vacations. The company has
arrangements with 34 hotels in
Las Vegas and 21 in the Orlando and
Daytona Beach, Florida, areas. In 2008, the airline sold 400,000 hotel
room nights. Commissions on hotel and rental car packages are up
to one-third of the airline's revenue.
In 2009, ancillary revenues were $33.35 per passenger.
Allegiant's air charter operation contributed 7% of its revenue in
In March 2011, Allegiant took over charter service to Wendover Airport
for Peppermill Casinos, Inc. to shuttle customers to Peppermill's
three casinos in West Wendover, Nevada; the Montego Bay Resort, the
Rainbow Wendover and the Peppermill Wendover. Allegiant based one
150-seat, MD-80 series jet aircraft in Wendover and more than 20
employees, including maintenance, flight crews and stations
Allegiant also transports firefighters for the United States Forest
Service as well as college basketball teams. Allegiant had a
contract to supply charter flights from Miami to four cities in Cuba
beginning June 2009. One aircraft was committed to the contract.
The contract was for fixed-fee flying, meaning all the airline was
required to do was provide the dry aircraft and the flight crew. The
contractor was responsible for all other costs including fuel.
However, Allegiant ended this service in August 2009.
The company had charter contracts with Caesars Entertainment to ferry
customers to Caesars casino properties through Reno-Tahoe
Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport
Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport and
Tunica Municipal Airport. These contracts ended in December 2012
when Caesars Entertainment signed a new contract with Republic Airways
to provide the charter service to Caesars properties in Atlantic City,
Tunica, Mississippi and Laughlin, Nevada.
The airline tends to offer lower fares, which requires strict cost
control. Part of the airline's lower cost structure includes
McDonnell Douglas MD-80
McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets, which the airline can
purchase and refurbish for as little as $4 million. While the
aircraft are less fuel-efficient than newer planes, Allegiant was able
to purchase used MD-80s outright for one-tenth the cost of a new
Boeing 737 although Allegiant has subsequently purchased used Boeing
757-200s, Airbus A319s and Airbus A320s. (the 757s were acquired
Hawaii service while the Airbus jets are beginning to replace
MD-80 aircraft). Given the low cost of ownership, Allegiant is able to
operate its aircraft less (seven flight hours per day on average
versus 13 hours per day at
JetBlue Airways), which helps keep labor
costs lower. Overall, Allegiant operates with 35 full-time workers
per plane compared to more than 50 at other carriers. Allegiant
schedules their crew members so that they always return to their
domicile at the end of the day, thus avoiding the need for hotel rooms
which can be a costly expense for airlines.
The airline seeks to maintain a low permanent operating cost at the
airport. Allegiant rents ticket counters on an hourly basis and in
Chattanooga, Tennessee and Springfield, Missouri, many duties are
handled by airport employees contracted to Allegiant.
Allegiant maintains control over pricing by offering flights
exclusively through its website, which also sells these ancillary
products. It has no toll-free phone number and does not use Internet
Criticism of the business model
The airport director in Worcester, Massachusetts, felt that Allegiant
reneged on a commitment to serve the airport for five years given the
use of federal grants to assist its startup. However, the airline
responded that the market was immediately unprofitable and starting
service there was a poor decision; flights were reported to be 80%
full. Allegiant's flights average 90% full.
United States Department of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation cited the airline in
2009 for not including the "convenience fee" in the initial price
quote on the website.
Criticism of workers' right to organize
Flight attendants at the carrier voted to organize their workgroup
Transport Workers Union of America
Transport Workers Union of America in December 2010, citing
scheduling concerns among other issues in their work rules and the
airline's pilots elected to vote on whether to join the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters in July 2012. In August 2012, the pilots
voted to organize and joined the Teamsters. Allegiant's chairman
and CEO, Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., has been critical of the
unionization of airline employees, and has stated, "Unionization is
one of those things that clogs the arteries and makes you less quick
and not as nimble as you need to be on top of your game... In this
industry and others that are heavily unionized, you ultimately end up
with bankruptcy as the primary driver."
Allegiant Air has been closely monitored by the FAA due to many
emergency landings and aborted takeoffs. ABC interviewed a former
Allegiant mechanic, who said "Dedicated steps were not being performed
with maintenance manuals or even with general practices, before an
aircraft is released." Many of these incidents have involved
Allegiant's MD80 aircraft, which are expected to be replaced by Airbus
A320 family aircraft. 46 of the 86 aircraft have made emergency
landings, all of which were on MD-80's. In March 2016 an Allegiant
Airbus A320 was forced to make an emergency landing at
In May 2016, the FAA confirmed that Allegiant was under
investigation. On August 17, 2016, Allegiant Flight 436 aborted
its take-off from McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada
due to an uncommanded early rotation at about 120 knots
(220 km/h) indicated airspeed. An investigation by the FAA found
that maintenance procedures had not been followed by Allegiant's
maintenance provider, AAR Air Services Inc. This resulted in a nut
becoming detached from an elevator boost cylinder. The aircraft had
made 216 flights in an unairworthy condition. The FAA investigation
revealed two similar occurrences. The FAA intends to prosecute over
each offense. The result of the 2016 FAA audit was to give the
airline a clean bill of health.
A November 2016 analysis by the
Tampa Bay Times noted that Allegiant's
planes were four times more likely to have in-flight failures than
other major US airlines.
Allegiant Air destinations
As of March 2017, Allegiant offers service to 177 destinations
throughout the United States, mostly to smaller non-hub regional
airports and all usually only a few times each week. It chooses its
routes after calculating expected costs and revenue and adds or ends
service to particular destinations as demand warrants.
The airline bases aircraft in Asheville, Bellingham, Cincinnati, Fort
Lauderdale, Fort Walton Beach, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans,
Oakland, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix–Mesa, Pittsburgh, Punta Gorda, and
St. Petersburg/Clearwater. A base in Indianapolis is scheduled to open
in early 2018.
Top airports with scheduled Allegiant service (monthly, November
Las Vegas (LAS)
St. Petersburg/Clearwater (PIE)
Punta Gorda/Fort Myers (PGD)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
Los Angeles (LAX)
As of March 30, 2018, the Allegiant fleet consists of the following
Airbus A320 taking off from Fort
Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport
Allegiant Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 at McCarran International
Older aircraft to be reconfigured with 186 seats.
McDonnell Douglas MD-83
To be replaced by end of 2018 with
Airbus A320 family aircraft.
Last commercial flight to be scheduled on November 25, 2018.
McDonnell Douglas MD-88
Allegiant Air is the only U.S.-based carrier to have operated all five
subtypes of the MD-80 series. On January 4, 2010, the
SAS Group sold
18 surplus MD-80 series aircraft, built in the 1980s, to Allegiant
In April 2010, Allegiant purchased six
Boeing 757-200 aircraft from
Thomson Airways for flights to
Hawaii with the delivery of the first
two in the following months. In September 2011, Allegiant Air
introduced the 757 into service from their main hub in Las Vegas.
Allegiant later began using the
ETOPS configured 757s for service to
Hawaii. Fresno and
Las Vegas were the inaugural destinations with
nonstop service to Honolulu, Hawaii. Nonstop service to Honolulu was
then added from Bellingham, Boise, Eugene, Phoenix (via Mesa Gateway
Airport), Santa Maria,
Spokane and Stockton. Nonstop service to
Hawaii was also planned from
Monterey, CA but was not actually
operated. Allegiant then began to reduce its
Hawaii service and
currently only operates Las Vegas-Honolulu nonstops with all Honolulu
service scheduled to end in November 2017 due to Allegiant determining
that the extensive and costly maintenance check that happens about
every six years and costs upwards of $1 million would not be
efficient on the aircraft they fly to Hawaii.
In September 2010, Allegiant began to reconfigure their MD-80 fleet
from 150 seats to 166 seats per plane. The project would involve
removing galleys from the planes to add the 16 additional seats. All
of the MD-80 conversions were completed by the end of September
In July 2012, Allegiant announced the future addition of the Airbus
A319-100 aircraft to its fleet. The aircraft are used and formerly
belonged to easyJet and Cebu Pacific. All of them are high-density
A319s, fitted with four overwing exits, allowing 156 seats. Two former
easyJet aircraft entered service in 2013, with another in 2014 and 6
in 2015. In December 2012, Allegiant cancelled the agreement with
Cebu Pacific citing an inability to agree on economic provisions.
On May 1, 2013, Allegiant purchased another A319 aircraft previously
operated by easyJet and would enter service in the third quarter of
2013. On February 23, 2015, Allegiant purchased 6 more A319s from
Cebu Pacific which will be delivered starting this year until
In 2013, Allegiant acquired 9 Airbus A320-200 aircraft from Spanish
flag carrier Iberia. Seven of the A320s were delivered in 2013
and were used for growth into new markets, including destinations in
Rocky Mountains as well as airfields such as
Charlottesville and Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and Trenton, New
Jersey. On February 24, 2015, Allegiant announced the purchase of
2 additional A320s from
Philippine Airlines which entered into service
in 2015. Later in 2015 the airline announced a firm order for an
Airbus A320 direct from Airbus, the first time it has directly
purchased new aircraft from the supplier.
In May 2017,
Allegiant Air took delivery of its first brand new A320.
Allegiant will take delivery of 10 new A320s in 2017 and 2 in 2018.
All new Allegiant Airbuses will be painted in Allegiant's new livery
at the time it is delivered. Old Allegiant Airbuses will be repainted
during their C-checks. MD-80 aircraft will be retired with
Allegiant old liveries. All new Airbuses will have sharklets and
painted in Allegiant's new livery. The new A320’s seat 186
passengers, an increase of the 177 seats that are found in the rest of
the Allegiant A320 fleet. “To fit the additional nine seats,
Allegiant opted for the Airbus Space-Flex V2 Lavatory.” 
On October 31, 2017, the final 757 was retired from service, leaving
Allegiant with two fleet types. All remaining MD-80s are scheduled to
be retired by 2018. However, as of March 2018, Allegiant was
continuing to operate MD-80 models on some flights.
Allegiant Air's livery features a bright sunburst design on the tail,
emphasizing the airline's "sun" destinations. The livery was created
for the airline by Tiami Designs, Atlanta, Georgia.
Allegiant Air’s business model is considered to be similar to that
of the airline Valujet. Both airlines have had high numbers of
emergency landings, and both bought second, third, or even fourth hand
aircraft. As a result, they both flew the oldest commercial aircraft
fleet in the United States at the time. Eventually, Valujet’s
reputation was tarnished, and it merged with
AirTran in 1997.
Awards and recognition
Forbes: America's 100 Best Small Companies: Listed at 52
Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aviation Maintenance
Technician (AMT) Diamond Award of Excellence: 2009 and August 2010
Fortune 100's Fastest Growing Companies: Listed at 25
Aviation Week: Top Performing Low Cost Carrier
Las Vegas Business Press: Innovation Award - Tourism industry: 2018
(inaugural awards year)
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^ "757 D-Check (Maintenance check)". Retrieved 11 June 2017.
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Las Vegas portal
Media related to
Allegiant Air at Wikimedia Commons
Franklin, John (November–December 2005). "Allegiant Air: Finding a
Las Vegas and Orlando". Airliners: The World's Airline
Magazine. World Transport Press. pp. 35–39.
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