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New Provo-to-Phoenix flights ease sting of lost route

Published December 5, 2012 6:28 pm

Air travel • As Denver service ends, Allegiant to fly twice weekly to Arizona.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Allegiant Air will begin nonstop flights between Provo and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport beginning Feb. 15, opening a new air portal even as another is set to close.

The low-fare airline will introduce the twice-weekly service with $49.99 one-way fares. Tickets must be purchased by Dec. 12 for travel by June 6.

Allegiant will fly the route on Mondays and Fridays with 164-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets, Provo Municipal Airport manager Steve Gleason said Wednesday. Allegiant officials could not be reached for comment.

"We have a strong market to the Mesa-Phoenix area. I think we are also a strong market for the Mesa-Phoenix area" because of sports and LDS Church activities at Brigham Young University, he said.

Allegiant is already accepting reservations at its website, www2.allegiantair.com.

Provo will be Allegiant's second destination in Utah. The Las Vegas-based carrier began service between Ogden and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway in September.

Provo airport officials have been talking to Allegiant for about two years.

The new Allegiant flights come as Frontier Airlines is about to end service between Provo Municipal Airport and Denver International Airport. Gleason said Allegiant will not replace the route from Frontier, which will pull out of Provo on Jan. 6.

"It means we lose our daily flight to Denver and all points to the east. We are hoping that we will be able to replace that service. We've been talking to other airlines for two or three years. It's a process, and we are always interested in other airlines."

Gleason declined to say whether Provo has identified any prospects.

In September, it was announced that Frontier decided to pull out of Provo because the airline was reducing the aircraft types in its fleet. Frontier flies between Provo and Denver with 99-seat Embraer E190 aircraft. The airline's parent company, Republic Airways, is building its fleet around Airbus aircraft and shedding Embraers.

Republic bought Frontier in 2009. The $1.1 billion acquisition is widely believed to be a failure. Republic has announced it will get rid of Frontier either by spinning it off through an initial public offering, selling it to another airline or selling it to a private equity firm.

Frontier began flying out of Provo in June 2011. At the outset, passenger demand was low, but that soon changed. By last summer, Frontier's planes were 85 percent to 80 percent full. Over the life of the Denver service, load factors averaged 76 percent.

"That's pretty good," Gleason said.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

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Provo to Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport

When • Flights begin Feb. 15

How often • Twice weekly, Mondays and Fridays

Cost • Introductory $49.99 one-way fares