Allegiant Air axes Santa Barbara-Nevada flights


Allegiant Air announced plans to drop its flights between Santa Barbara and the Nevada destination.

“Unfortunately, due to lack of market demand, we will end our service from Santa Barbara,” Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., president, CEO and chairman for the carrier, said in a short statement released yesterday. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers and greatly appreciate the support the Santa Barbara airport management team and community have shown us.”

Allegiant Air’s three weekly flights between Santa Barbara and Las Vegas will officially end on September 13, and the carrier will contact customers with reservations beyond that date to arrange other travel plans.

“It’s always a shame when we lose service of any type,” said Mayor Marty Blum. “This was a good one for people to have a quick getaway to Las Vegas.”

Airport officials, out of the office on one of several furlough days implemented to balance the city’s budget, could not be reached for comment, but an email to city leaders from Airport Director Karen Ramsdell noted the airline had tried a variety of strategies to entice customers, including providing packages that included car rental or shuttle service, hotel accommodations and entertainment shows along with airfare.

“Allegiant tried various schedule changes to try to make the service profitable but none proved successful,” Ramsdell wrote.

The Las Vegas-based airline had launched its flights on 150-seat jets from the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in May 2008 to much fanfare about its low fares and direct service. Airline officials had declared that average fares would be approximately $59 each way.

U.S. Airways also offers flights to Las Vegas, but according to its booking website, the cheapest one-way flights next month are $107 without taxes or fees and include stopovers in other cities. Ramsdell noted U.S. Airways had offered nonstop service to Las Vegas until May of this year, when they “severely reduced” their hub in Las Vegas.

A quick search on the Allegiant website shows one-way flights still being offered this month for as low as $50 including fees, although prices on peak travel days are higher. It appears Allegiant will continue to offer flights to Las Vegas from the Santa Maria Airport three days a week.