The Allegiant Air jetliner that arrived in Santa Maria is just the first of many that will regularly fly from the airport to Hawaii, beginning Nov. 17.
Allegiant announced earlier this year that Santa Maria will become one of four western cities from which the airline will offer flights to Honolulu.
Friday’s visit was one of three planned so crews can familiarize themselves with the airport and the new equipment required for the larger aircraft. Crews will see the planes again Nov. 2 and Nov. 9.
Several spectators showed up to watch the plane land from behind the fences surrounding the runway.
Airport General Manager Chris Hastert said the practice runs were part of Allegiant’s regular service from Santa Maria to Las Vegas.
The difference, Hastert said, is that the Boeing 757 carries 223 passengers instead of 150.
“It shows what we’re doing to improve the airport,” Hastert said, noting the newly finished extended airport runway. “It’s an exciting day that we’re going to use the runway for something that couldn’t happen before. This is just their opportunity to work out the bugs.”
Crews discovered one of those kinks Friday when the special Allegiant ramp fell three feet below the plane’s main exit door. While crews worked to raise the ramp, passengers exited through a door behind the wing.
Initial service from Santa Maria to Hawaii will be a single weekly flight, according to Hastert.