After more than a year of planning and acquiring the necessary operating certificates, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air launched its first nonstop flight to Hawaii from McCarran International Airport this morning.
Allegiant’s Flight 570, on one of the airline’s newly acquired twin-engine Boeing 757 jets, was filled to capacity with 223 passengers when it left McCarran’s D gates at 8:40 a.m.
Michael Reichartz, senior vice president of marketing, who was at McCarran for the sendoff of the first flight, said Allegiant’s weekend flights to Honolulu are sold out and that advanced ticket sales have been strong.
The airline promoted its first flights to Hawaii with discounted fares. Reichartz said there are still some flights available in August and September for $159 one way, which includes taxes. Allegiant charges a wide variety of fees to check bags, take carry-on bags on the plane, select seats and to book flights online or by telephone.
Allegiant flies the Hawaii route three times a week and starts weekly service to Honolulu from Fresno, Calif., on Sunday.
In November, the airline will add routes to Honolulu from Bellingham, Wash.; Eugene, Ore.; Santa Maria and Stockton, Calif. The carrier also will offer nonstop flights between Bellingham and Maui.
Passengers arriving in Honolulu just before noon Hawaii time were greeted with leis, Hawaiian music and a blessing ceremony. The first passengers on the return flight to Las Vegas later today will be sent off by a Las Vegas showgirl and an Elvis Presley impersonator. The flight arrives here close to midnight.
Allegiant’s business model is to connect resort destinations with small cities. Reichartz said because Honolulu and Las Vegas are both resort destinations, ticket sales have been brisk because there are as many Las Vegans wanting to go to Hawaii as Hawaiians wanting to fly here.
Allegiant was prepared for the large number of additional passengers at its ticket counter this morning. The Hawaii flight wasn’t the only one with passengers checking in, and nine customer service representatives kept the wait in line to less than 15 minutes for most people. Many of those in line had checked in online and were dropping off suitcases.
Allegiant, a subsidiary of Allegiant Travel Co., has partnerships with 55 hotel properties in Hawaii to develop package deals for customers.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Hawaiian tourism officials say Allegiant’s flights are estimated to generate $30 million in visitor spending and $3 million in tax revenue annually for Hawaii.
“Our Hawaii partners have been great,” Reichartz said. “They’ve really welcomed us. Of course, like Las Vegas, tourism is very important to them and they’re always needing more lift.”