Allegiant Airlines announced plans today to expand its network with 22 new routes set to service Florida, Arizona, and California. Allegiant's base at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport will see the largest growth with the addition of seven new destinations.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway is the Phoenix area's secondary airport and is currently served by Allegiant, Sun Country, Avelo, and Canadian airlines Swoop and Flair. Although new low-cost airline Avelo hasn't made a formal announcement of their intentions to exit the market, flights to Phoenix-Mesa are not bookable after September 13. As for Allegiant, with the addition of the seven new routes, the airline will have a total of 52 nonstop seasonal and year-round destinations.
In an interesting move, Allegiant announced service to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) igniting head-to-head competition with Sun County Airlines who announced plans to service the area back in April.
Allegiant's addition of the route appears to be retaliatory as last month Sun Country started a "turf war" of sorts after announcing plans to service Punta Gorda, Florida, an Allegiant base and hub city, and Ashville, North Carolina, days after Allegiant announced service to those destinations from Minneapolis. Not only is Sun Country matching Allegiant’s start dates on those routes, but it’s also matching its schedule. Sun Country will fly all three of the routes twice weekly, operating on the same two days that Allegiant will.
Sun Country not only operates its busiest hub at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, but it's also headquartered nearby. Its decision to precisely match Allegiant’s new routes from the airport just days after they were announced is almost certainly a counter-strike to defend its position in the market.
When announcing service to Phoenix-Mesa, Sun Country Airlines Chief Revenue Officer Grant Whitney said,
"With more and more people excited to resume traveling, we’re excited to be able to offer them another option to get away this winter to enjoy the Valley of the Sun... We know there is pent-up demand for convenient, affordable travel, and we’re here to help folks enjoy the vacations they’ve been dreaming about.”
Just last month, the airport announced record-setting passenger numbers for June of this year with a total of 151,219 passengers having traveled through the Airport, the highest June passenger total in the history of the Airport. June 2021 marked the first year-over-year commercial passenger growth since the pandemic started in March 2020.
“Families are making up for lost travel and they have come to know the convenience and affordability of Gateway Airport,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles, Chairman of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority. “June is the kickoff to the summer travel season, and we are encouraged and hopeful that this trend will continue.”
Now with two airlines battling it out on the same airfield with flights to the same destinations, there's no doubt the trend will continue as the airlines drop fares to entice travelers.
Allegiant’s twice-weekly service between Phoenix-Mesa and Minneapolis-St. Paul will launch Nov. 24.. and so will Sun Country's.