Posted by Bryan Guentner on Friday, December 5th, 2008 at 1:45pm.

According to the The Sarasota Herald Tribune article on December 3, 2008, the Las Vegas-based Allegiant will take Charlotte County passengers to and from South Carolina's Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport and McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tenn. beginning in March.  Allegiant will offer 150 seats on two flights a week to each destination.

Airline spokeswoman Tyri Squyres said her company contacted Gary Quill, the airport's executive director.  The company was attracted by the airport's low costs and the fact that Charlotte is along the southwest Gulf coast and close to Interstate 75.  "We've been looking at the area for a long time," Squyres said. "As a company we serve small cities and provide transportation to world-class leisure destinations."

This is the airline's fourth destination in Florida.  Allegiant has service to the St. Petersburg International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International Airport, she said.

Allegiant has been negotiating with airport officials for the past several months to get the costs down, Squyres said.  "We're very good at managing our costs, and they've made sure from a business perspective that the costs work for us," she said.

Charlotte County Airport can offer low costs because it has little debt, Quill said. “We're going to be a niche carrier," he said. "We will never approach the size of Sarasota, so that means no delays and extremely low costs."  Given the current "economic and aviation environment, we're very happy," Quill said.

Now that the airport has doubled its number of commercial carriers -- from one to two -- Quill said he will concentrate on working with the two airlines to increase the number of destinations and services offered to customers.

"What we'd like to do is grow the two carriers we have," he said. "We now have 10 cities, which is pretty impressive for a small airport."  With the addition of Allegiant, which will add four flights a week to the schedule, the airport will have an average of two to three commercial flights each day. Quill said it can handle as many as 20 daily flights.

The new airline service helps raise Charlotte County's profile, said Becky Bovell, director of the Charlotte Harbor Visitor's Bureau.  "We are absolutely thrilled," Bovell said. "Whenever we have another airline choosing Charlotte County as one of their destinations, it increases the awareness of our area which always promotes tourism."

The visitor's bureau plans to work actively with Allegiant, which encourages its customers to book hotel reservations right on its Web site.

"They need the support of our tourism industry to make them successful," Bovell said. "I think it will be a mutually beneficial relationship. Lots of people here are from Knoxville, and North and South Carolina. The load factor should be good both ways."

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