Allegiant Air’s first flight lands in town
A delicious sense of excitement hangs in the cold morning air as 25 spectators gather on the balcony, chatting, scanning the horizon for the first glimpse of the long-awaited arrival.
An airport attendant speeds by, shooing a few nosy coyotes off the runway.
And then suddenly it’s there – at first appearances, just a tiny black fly in the distant skies. Then the hair-raising, side-splitting roar of jet engines and a graceful, flawless landing. From the balcony the happy audience cheers, clapping shivering hands and snapping photos.
The big day had finally arrived. Allegiant Air began service Thursday at Lake Tahoe Airport.
The number of passengers on board? Two.
But don’t worry, according to one of those passengers, Allegiant Air President Jim Patterson, that should change soon.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but with the help of the community, we’ll be seeing a lot more passengers very soon,” Patterson said. “We’re already running ads in Las Vegas and Burbank, and working with the Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority to prime the pump.”
Allegiant Air’s 89-passenger DC9-51H jet aircraft will fly four days a week, twice a day and if there is enough demand, expand to a third daily flight and service seven days a week. Routes are to Fresno, Burbank and Las Vegas.
Thursday’s slow start, said Airport Management Assistant Janis Brand, was fully expected.
“They were even talking about not having any passengers at all for the first few weeks,” Brand said. “It’s hard getting promotions started, it’ll be a few weeks until it all gets going.”
Allegiant’s Director of Stations, Reuben Cruz, said 12 passengers were booked for the inaugural noon flight to Burbank and that although the next few weeks only showed light bookings, interest in the community and elsewhere is increasing as more people hear that air service to Tahoe has resumed.
“I think the secret is good marketing,” said Mayor Judy Brown. “We will do all we can to assist them in making this venture a true success.”
Tahoe Air, also recently awarded a commercial flight permit for Lake Tahoe Airport, will begin scheduled flights to Los Angeles June 25 and San Jose, Calif. July 1.
For reservations and information, call Allegiant Air at (877) 202-6444
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Update 9:15 a.m. — Power has been restored to about 3,700 customers, according to the Liberty Utilities outage map.