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Monday, November 28, 2016

Allegiant Air Prepares to Take Off From Burlington — for Good

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 1:22 PM

click to enlarge Burlington International Airport - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Burlington International Airport
Budget flights to Orlando, Fla., on Allegiant Air are being phased out at Burlington International Airport three years after they began.

The airline will officially sever service out of BTV in March 2017, ending the run between Burlington and Orlando Sanford International Airport.

The penny-wise airline likes airports with little infrastructure and lower fees than what Burlington’s airport generally charges, according to Gene Richards, director of aviation.

“They were not happy,” Richards said. “They do not want to pay the fees that the other airlines pay because that is not their model. So I think that’s what it came down to.”

An airline spokeswoman confirmed that Allegiant's service to Burlington will end on March 4. "Increased airport costs and a route that lacked strong demand made it a situation which was no longer financially feasible for us," Hilarie Grey wrote in an email.

News of the departure comes as the airport negotiates five-year agreements with the other airlines that fly in and out of Burlington. American Airlines has already signed an agreement, and Delta, United and JetBlue have agreed to terms and are expected to sign by year’s end, according to Richards.

Allegiant continues to fly from Plattsburgh International Airport across Lake Champlain in New York. The small operation on a former U.S. Air Force base calls itself “Montreal’s U.S. Airport” and has aggressively wooed travelers who live just over the border in Canada.
click to enlarge Gene Richards - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Gene Richards
Burlington also relies on Canadian travelers, who helped boost traffic out of BTV to a peak of 759,000 departing passengers in 2008, well ahead of last year’s 594,000 departures.

A weak Canadian dollar and competition from budget flights out of Plattsburgh are among the factors affecting Burlington’s bid to return to the peak numbers of 10 years ago.

One bright spot: Traffic is up this year over last by about 1.8 percent. From January to the end of October, 511,733 people flew out of BTV, compared to 502,411 during the same period in 2015.

Allegiant’s flights to Orlando from Burlington drew 13,002 passengers in 2014, 14,600 in 2015 and 9,975 passengers through October of this year.

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Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh

Bio:
Molly Walsh is a Seven Days staff writer.

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