Aviation News

August 23, 2011

Discount Airlines Betting Big in Las Vegas

There’s an expansion going on in Las Vegas. Yes, that’s right. Someone is banking on the city with the highest unemployment rate in the nation, the home of the housing bust and the city where the term “mothball” has become a common phrase. But it’s not on the strip or another big box store moving in. It’s several low cost airlines that are betting on an economic turnaround.

Ever so slight wingflex in this Allegiant Mad-Dog MD-83 N865GA in front of the MGM Grand

Ever so slight wingflex in this Allegiant Mad-Dog (N865GA) in front of the MGM Grand. (Photo by John Klos)

Over the last several months passenger counts have steadily risen at McCarran International Airport. After a tumultuous recession, things are starting to bounce back here. More conventions are being held in Las Vegas, more travelers are coming to Sin City for a quick weekend getaway. And to help everyone get to and from the oasis in the desert, airlines are ramping up their service.

In the previous seven days three airlines announced new routes to and from Las Vegas. Frontier Airlines announced its new route first, Las Vegas (LAS) to Kansas City (MCI). The route does not excite me but I believe Frontier is putting more faith in Las Vegas.

Second up for the week was Las Vegas based Allegiant Airlines and its new service to Lafayette, Louisiana. Allegiant’s business model of flying into smaller cities not frequented by airlines is working. Allegiant’s fares averages about $90 each way and it pulls in roughly $30 per paying passenger in ancillary fees, according to Allegiant’s July 2011 Traffic report. The ancillary fees are for everything from seat selection to checking bags. While it’s a new route, the airline’s big payoff will come once its new 757s get ETOPS certification. Then Allegiant will start flying to Hawaii- going head-to-head with Hawaiian Air.

Spirit Airlines ended the week by announcing twice-daily service from Las Vegas to Oakland. This is the one route I found very surprising. The route is already heavily dominated by two airlines. Southwest Airlines flies to both OAK and San Francisco. Spirit will also be going head-to-head with Virgin America which flies into SFO. The fee-centric airline made a big splash a few months ago when it started flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Again, another route heavily dominated by other Low Cost Carriers and legacy airlines. Spirit’s new route is advertised at a very cheap fares- from $11 to $29 but there’s a catch- a pricey one. Don’t forget Spirit charges for seat selection, carry-on luggage and checked bags.

I think it’s great more airlines are expanding. By expanding, they’re putting faith in the economy, banking on Las Vegas’ come back and keeping people on the job. While I don’t think all the routes will stick in the long run, I believe they have the right idea. With the opening of McCarran’s terminal 3 next year, there will be even more spots to fill at the airport’s older terminal buildings. This, in turn, will mean more airlines will have the opportunity to add service to southern Nevada.

About the Author

Dan Landson



What’s Happening At The 2019 Paris Air Show (Updated 3X)

The 2019 edition of the Paris Air Show is happening this week. The biennial show is traditionally a place where new aircraft are launched and new orders flow in. Follow along here all this week as we recap each day’s happ...
by Ben Granucci


Friday Photos: The 2017 LAX Meetup, Part One

With the 2017 LAX Meetup behind us, here are some of the great shots taken in and around the Los Angeles area during that weekend.
by Ben Granucci



Friday Photos: The NYCAviation/PHX Spotters LAX Meetup Is Next Month!

With the 4th Annual NYCAviation & PHX Spotters Meetup about a month away, we take a look at photos from the various spotting locations around LAX.
by NYCAviation Staff


Misused Aviation Terms, Part 1: Airlines and Accidents

Many terms are thrown around, whether it be by avgeeks, the news media or general public, that have official definitions aside from what is socially thought.
by Phil Derner Jr.


CLOSED: Winter Storm Stella Takes Aim at Northeastern US and Eastern Canada

Winter Storm Stella is taking aim at the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada early this week. We'll have your latest updates on the storm and its impact on air travel here.
by NYCAviation Staff