Americans are starting to think about flying again — and some airlines are expanding the routes they offer in hopes of luring new travelers into the skies.
Allegiant Air recently announced it will offer 34 new nonstop routes this summer. The new routes include major-metro destinations like San Diego, Los Angeles, Nashville and Portland, Oregon. (A complete list is available on Allegiant’s website.)
Drew Wells, Allegiant’s senior vice president of revenue, explains:
“As summer approaches, we expect a lot of pent-up demand for travel, especially for places where people can hike, fish, camp or visit the beach. With this expansion, we’ve added even more service to destinations known for their outdoor appeal.”
Nine of the new routes are special limited routes to Rapid City, South Dakota, for the Sturgis Rally 2021. The 10-day motorcycle rally draws hundreds of thousands of bikers to Sturgis, South Dakota, every summer.
Southwest Airlines also is offering new routes.
In February, the airline announced the addition of service to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport in Florida and Bozeman Yellowstone International in Montana. Service to these new destinations begins in May, with one-way fares to Bozeman starting at $39 and one-way fares to Destin-Fort Walton Beach starting at $69.
This week, Southwest announced three additional new routes to new airports — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Eugene, Oregon; and Bellingham, Washington.
“That makes 17 new airports that either we have opened or announced since the pandemic began,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a message to employees.
The airline anticipates starting service to Myrtle Beach by this summer and to Eugene and Bellingham in the second half of the year.
The announcement of new routes for Allegiant and Southwest comes as airlines around the world are using cheaper fares in hopes of enticing people to fly after many travelers spent the past year grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. domestic airfares slid to an average of $245 in the third quarter of 2020, the latest quarter for which the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has released data.
That is the lowest inflation-adjusted average quarterly airfare in BTS records, which date back to 1995. It also represents a 30% slide from fares in the third quarter of 2019, Bloomberg reports.
Last year’s travel slowdown caused major turbulence in the airline industry, and airlines now are trying to get back on course. According to Bloomberg:
“Airlines worldwide cut $1 billion of expenses a day last year to cope with the slump in passengers, and that’s given them some wiggle room to lower ticket prices. More broadly, cost savings are emerging for carriers as unwanted planes become available on the cheap. Thousands of laid off flight crew are also eager for work, allowing some airlines to go on hiring sprees.”
So, you likely can expect more deals from airlines as COVID-19 infections continue to drop and the number of people vaccinated for the coronavirus rises.
Finding great travel deals
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Those who have not traveled in the past year may be surprised to find that some rules have changed regarding how you go through airport security. Learn more in “7 Ways Airport Screening Is Changing for All Travelers.”
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