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Local News

Allegiant Air Grounds Nonstop Flights Between Santa Barbara, Las Vegas

The move, effective Sept. 13, also ends the airline's affiliation with the Santa Barbara Airport

Santa Barbara travelers headed to Las Vegas most likely will have to spend more time and money after Allegiant Air announced it is canceling its Santa Barbara-Las Vegas nonstop flights effective Sept. 13, ending the airline’s affiliation with the Santa Barbara Airport.

Locals headed to Vegas in a hurry will have to opt for a drive to Santa Maria for the same service or one-stop services from other airlines at the Santa Barbara Airport.

The airline has no plans to bring Los Angeles or other services to Santa Barbara, corporate communications director Tyri Squyres said.

The cancellation announcement from Allegiant Travel Company said the closure was prompted by a lack of demand.

The Santa Maria Airport, which offers the same Allegiant nonstop service to Las Vegas, is 65 miles away and may draw from the same pool of people.

There are options closer to home, as airlines flying out of Santa Barbara offer one-stop flights to Vegas, airport spokeswoman Terri Gibson said.

While nonstop flights take about an hour and 10 minutes, one-stop flights through Los Angeles, such as those offered by American Eagle from Santa Barbara, take about three hours.

“It’s not as convenient, but you can fly almost any day of the week,” Gibson said.

Allegiant’s service was available only three times a week, but was offered for much less than the $200 to $300 tickets United has listed for flights after Sept. 13, she said.

In July, Allegiant Air’s 150-seat planes had an average capacity of 70.7 percent for Santa Barbara, Gibson said. From January to July, there were 16,464 passengers arriving and departing for the Santa Barbara-Vegas flights.

“I doubt it’ll affect any airline jobs at Santa Barbara,” Gibson said. The estimated revenue loss to the airport, taking terminal rent and land use into account, will be about $60,000 annually. Allegiant Air began service in Santa Barbara in May 2008.

“It’s not a big contributor to the airport’s $13 million budget,” she said.

Customers with Allegiant reservations after Sept. 16 will be contacted and accommodated, according to a news release.

This is far from the first time an airline has pulled out of a small local airport. In 2008, the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport lost two of its four major airlines — American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

The Santa Barbara Airport still will host six carriers after Allegiant leaves, but other local public airports have skimpier options. Santa Maria’s airport has two airlines, and the Oxnard Airport has just one — SkyWest’s United Express, the only airline that operates out of all of the aforementioned cities.

Allegiant also recently canceled its Monterey-Los Angeles service, Squyres said.

Allegiant Travel Company also offers nonstop flights to Vegas from Fresno, Stockton and Monterey. It focuses on flights and bundles for travelers from smaller cities to popular destinations such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando. The company reported a nine-fold increase in net income for its second quarter and a more than a 30-percent boost in passengers from last year.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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