By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Effective Jan. 3, 2016, Allegiant Airlines will no longer offer flights to Las Vegas out of the Brownsville – South Padre Island International Airport.
The news came as a surprise to airport officials, including Director of Aviation Sesha Vorrey. “I don’t see any reason why they pulled back,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
The airport was given written notice of the cessation of services only after Vorrey contacted Allegiant on Monday, Dec. 14. Prior to that, “not a word” was said to airport officials, Vorrey said. One week before, however, the airline issued a statement to the media announcing the upcoming termination of services.
“We are always disappointed to end service in a market,” said Daniel Meier in the statement. Meier serves as Allegiant Travel Co. manager of airports. “We thank Brownsville for their partnership and apologize to any travelers who are inconvenienced by this decision,” he continued.
It was an airport employee who first noticed Monday that no new bookings were appearing for the airline’s direct flights between Brownsville and Las Vegas.
The airline began offering two flights a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, in June of this year. The partnership was announced and promoted with much enthusiasm months earlier.
“We are proud to have sent thousands of passengers to Las Vegas from Brownsville,” Vorrey said in a statement.
Indeed, the airport regularly averaged a ‘load factor’ of 81 percent on those eight flights a month. Vorrey described load factor as an average number of passengers per 100 seats. A load factor of 81 means 81 out of 100 seats are filled per flight. On the airport’s slowest days, the load factor dipped to 69 percent, still better than two-thirds full. The highest load factor achieved was 94 percent. Each Allegiant flight was capable of accommodating 166 passengers.
Despite the news, Vorrey was optimistic about the possibility of partnering with Allegiant again in the future. “While we are disappointed with Allegiant’s decision, we are ready to welcome Allegiant back to Brownsville and to pursue flights to other destinations they serve such as Orlando,” he wrote in the statement.
The airport will continue to offer flights with United Airlines and American Eagle, Vorrey said. Expansion plans, including the construction of a new passenger terminal, will also continue unabated, he said.
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