Mainland air carrier eyes isles


POSTED: Saturday, April 25, 2009

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., which flies consumers in small markets to tourist destinations, is looking at expanding into Hawaii from the mainland.

But Ponder Harrison, managing director for the company, said the Hawaii plans are not imminent.

“;It's not something we plan to do in the very near term, but if you understand our business model, we're a pretty integrated travel company,”; he said.

Allegiant, which also sells hotel rooms, car rentals and attractions, is exclusively focused on the leisure passenger and offers nonstop travel from small markets throughout the U.S.

“;As a natural extension, Honolulu, and maybe one of the other islands, would be a natural place for us to be one day,”; Harrison said.

Allegiant, which will have 43 150-seat MD-80 aircraft in its fleet by the end of the quarter, flies to 70 cities across the United States. It plans to offer flights to Los Angeles beginning May 1.

The carrier's major destinations are Las Vegas, Phoenix, the Los Angeles region and several locations in Florida. Among some of the small cities that Allegiant flies from are Fargo, N.D.; Missoula, Mont.; and Bellingham, Wash.

Harrison acknowledged that MD-80s don't have the range to fly to Hawaii from the mainland and that a different aircraft would be needed.

“;You don't do that overnight,”; Harrison said. “;It's something we've looked at for a number of years and I think one day it's something we'll undertake.”;

Allegiant, which has offered some of its mainland flights for as low as $9 one way, is run by CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr., who led the company out of bankruptcy in 2002 and took it public in 2006.