Allegiant Air will offer flights from Santa Maria to the Pacific Northwest this spring, the airline announced Tuesday.
The announcement came as the COVID-19 crisis has again delayed the United Airlines plan, unveiled a year ago, to resume serving Santa Maria with two routes.
Allegiant announced several additions to its flight schedule, including service between the Santa Maria Public Airport and Portland International Airport starting April. 15.
“We’re really happy with the commitment that Allegiant has put into our community, because this is now our third non-stop destination with them,” said General Manager Chris Hastert of the Santa Maria Public Airport.
Allegiant flies between Santa Maria and Las Vegas, and last year added service between Santa Maria to Mesa, Arizona.
“The Pacific Northwest is one of our top markets, and it’s been under-served in Santa Maria for quite awhile, so we’re very happy with the new market as well,” he said.
Plans called for two flights a week — Thursdays and Sundays — with fares as low as $49 each way under a limited introductory rate that requires ticket purchases by Jan. 13 and use by Aug. 16.
Santa Maria is among three cities gaining new service to Portland, along with Monterey, California, and Idaho Falls, Idaho, to see new routes start in late May.
In all, Allegiant announced 21 new nonstop routes, including nine flights to three new cities: Portland, Oregon; Key West, Florida, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, plus eight routes that were delayed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today, travelers are seeking destinations that allow them the chance to recreate in a safe way, usually outdoors,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant’s vice president of revenue and planning. “The three cities we’re adding to our network – Key West, Portland and Jackson Hole – are gateways to some of the United States’ most scenic destinations, including national parks and other outdoor attractions that are in high demand.”
This is the second new route Allegiant added to Santa Maria. The Las Vegas-based airline announced in late August that new flights between Santa Maria and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway International Airport would begin Nov. 19.
“They’re still in their infancy right now, but it seems to doing very well,” Hasted said, adding that it’s too early for official ridership numbers.
On Jan. 10, 2020, United Airlines announced plans to launch a return to Santa Maria with flights to and from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.
But then COVID-19 hit, delaying the service planned start until June 2020, and later October 2020 and then March 2021.
The airline has eyed this June for the start of the new Santa Maria service, Hastert said.
“They seem very locked in on June now,” Hastert said.
The United service now only will include San Francisco and Denver routes, since United decided against including Los Angeles at this time.
“We’ll have five different destinations at that point. I think that’s a record for us,” Hastert said.