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Allegiant Air temporarily cuts 6 destinations from Cleveland Hopkins

August 29, 2018

Allegiant Air temporarily cuts 6 destinations from Cleveland Hopkins

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Allegiant Air, the low-cost carrier that launched 11 new destinations from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in 2017, has quietly cut the number of cities it serves from Cleveland by more than half.

A spokesman for Allegiant, however, said the reductions are temporary, while the airline transitions to a new fleet of airplanes.

Still on the route map from Cleveland: service to St. Pete-Clearwater, Orlando Sanford, Jacksonville and Punta Gorda, all in Florida; and Savanah-Hilton Head in Georgia.

Gone for now: service to Fort Lauderdale and Destin, Florida; Austin, New Orleans, Phoenix and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Some of the destinations that remain on the books have infrequent and irregular service. The route to Jacksonville, for example, is on hiatus until February; service to Orlando Sanford will take a break during December and January.

Said Allegiant spokesman Andrew Porrello: “After double checking with our planning team, I can confirm that none of the routes are scheduled to be permanently cut or eliminated. They are instead seasonally suspended and we look forward to bringing them back in the future.”

He could not say, however, when they would return.

Allegiant was the target of a stinging report last spring by “60 Minutes,” which focused on the carrier’s questionable safety record. Of particular concern: the airline’s reliance on an aging fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 planes, which are expensive to maintain and have been involved in a number of high-profile, in-flight incidents.

Porrello confirmed that the airline is phasing out those airplanes by the end of 2018. To make that possible, the carrier is buying up and renting new and used Airbus jets to replace them. “This has created temporary constraints as we retire our MD-80s and induct new Airbus,” said Porrello.

Cleveland is not the only airport affected by these equipment issues. In June, Allegiant was forced to cancel dozens of flights to and from Florida and Las Vegas because of aircraft shortages.

At the same time, the airline is still adding new service. Allegiant announced last week that it would start flying from Albany, New York, this winter to three Florida destinations.

Allegiant, which launched in Cleveland in February 2017, has faced stiff competition at Hopkins. The airline overlaps several routes – to Orlando, Tampa, New Orleans, Austin and Phoenix, among others -- with Frontier and Spirit airlines, two other low-cost carriers that have grown at Hopkins in recent years.

The airline has an unusual business model, targeting leisure travelers almost exclusively with infrequent service – twice or three times a week – to popular vacation destinations.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, Allegiant’s load factor – that is, the percentage of seats that are filled – was 79.44 percent in 2017 and 83.8 percent for the first five months of 2018.

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