Allegiant Air made its flight service debut at the newly named Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Thursday amid smiling passengers, economic optimism and the traditional water hose greeting by Mesa Fire Department trucks at the airport terminal.
More than 400 passengers took advantage of low fares and direct flights on three inaugural flights to and from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, S.D.
Between 500 and 600 passengers are expected to board four flights today at the Mesa airport to-and-from Stockton and Santa Maria, Calif., and Missoula, Mont.
“The number of passengers this first day far exceeds our early expectations,” said Tyri Squares, Allegiant communications director.
Among the first passengers were sisters Lucille Holthus, 75, of Chandler, and Adeline Christianson, 81, of Tucson. They — like most of the others — jumped at the chance of buying tickets on a direct flight that didn’t have layovers or long delays.
“If we took another flight, we’d have to stay and wait for four hours in Minneapolis,” Holthus said. The sisters were heading for Sioux Falls to celebrate the 90th birthday today of their other sister, Dorothy Larson.
Another first-time Allegiant flyer, Tara Krog, 28, of Phoenix and her pet Shih Tzu, Tully, boarded a 150-passenger jetliner with a one-way ticket which cost $169 and included the $50 fare for her tiny dog.
“The price for both of us was reasonable and, more importantly, we don’t have to walk around an airport waiting for a connecting flight,” said the Brookings, S.D., native, working toward her master’s degree in clinical psychiatry. Brookings is about an hour’s drive from Sioux Falls.
Regular nonstop passenger service between Mesa and Green Bay, Wis., will begin Nov. 15, with introductory fares of $99.
Lower prices, such as those for the first flights, are available on a limited basis, and fares will spike during holiday weeks, said airline officials. Prices don’t include taxes, security and airport charges.
The premiere flights were celebrated with a party atmosphere that included free food, music and greetings from airport, airline and other community officials.
“We’re extremely pleased to celebrate our first flights from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and add Arizona to our roster of world-class leisure destinations,” said Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., president and chief executive officer of Allegiant Air.
He said the carrier has partnership agreements with more than 20 hotels in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa and Sedona.
The local economic impact also was cheered. Robert Brinton, executive director of the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the new flights are expected to bring more than 130,000 inbound visitors annually to the Valley, and the annual general revenue could be $8 million to $10 million.
• Headquarters: Las Vegas
• Founded 1997 and went public in 2006. Listed on Nasdaq stock exchange as ALGT
• Goal: Link travelers in small cities to major leisure destinations such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and Phoenix with low-cost rates on all-jet, passenger planes
• Has a fleet of 34 MD-80 jet aircraft seating between 130 and 150 passengers
• All travel is ticketless, all fares one-way
• Fifty-four cities are served with nonstop service to three U.S. hubs: Las Vegas, Orlando and Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg, Fla. A fourth U.S. hub opened with nonchartered flights at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Thursday. A fifth hub will open in November in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• Employees: 1,000
• Information: (702) 505-8888 or www.allegiantair.com
Source: Allegiant Air
Long-term financial Impact
A five-year contract between Allegiant Air and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is expected to have the following financial impact:
• 540,000 total passengers, including 405,600 from out-of-state
• $861,000 in landing fees paid by airline
• $132,000 in facility use fees
• $1.02 million in fuel related handling and service fees
• $1.2 million in related revenues (concessions and rental cars)
• $1 million in annual Federal Aviation Administration Improvement Program entitlements
Source: Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
• Located on more than 3,000 acres in Mesa with administrative offices at 5835 S. Sossaman Road
• Three runways — one more than 9,000 feet long and two each more than 10,000-feet
• One passenger terminal, but plans are to construct another 300,000-square foot terminal bordered by Ellsworth and Ray Roads in the northeast, serving two million passengers and easily available to the future link of the Santan Freeway
• Terminal has four ticket counters and seating for more than 500, a new gift shop, food concession court and three car rental companies
• Future hopes: by 2020, total annual economic benefit of airport is expected to exceed $960 million and create nearly 13,000 jobs with an annual payroll above $216 million
• Airport is owned and operated by an airport authority that includes Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek and Gila River Indian Community
• Airport was established as a U.S. Army Air Corps base in 1941 and named Williams Field in 1942, for Arizona-born pilot Charles Linton Williams. It was officially named Williams Air Force Base in 1948 and, the airport authority was formed in 1994. In 1998, the deed transferring the Air Force property to the Williams Gateway Airport Authority was signed and given to the authority. Oct. 15, the name was officially changed to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and a new logo unveiled
• Arizona State University Polytechnic and Chandler-Gilbert Community College are located on campuses adjacent to the airport. ASU offers aeronautical engineering as well as other programs and Chandler-Gilbert provides pilot certifications and aviation technology
• Other offices at the airport include Federal Aviation Administration, Mesa Fire and Police Departments, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services and U.S. Marshals Service. More than 30 companies, including a wide variety of tenants, also are based to the airport
Source Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport