Tourism agencies to step up to plate aiding Tahoe airlines |

Tourism agencies to step up to plate aiding Tahoe airlines

Sally J. Taylor

After several years without commercial air service at Lake Tahoe, Allegiant Air planes now land regularly at the Lake Tahoe Airport. By the end of the month, Tahoe Air planes are also expected to begin daily flights.

Now that they’re here, Tahoe business and tourism organizations want to be sure they keep landing.

“The easiest part is to get an airline here,” Tom Davis told the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association on Thursday. “The real task is filling airplanes at a reasonable load level.”

Davis was among those who fought to get regular commercial service. Now he represents Tahoe Air as the fledgling airline’s director of community marketing. Davis is making the rounds of business meetings looking for the business community to help get the word out that air service is back at Lake Tahoe.

“It’s marketing, marketing, marketing that’s going to fill both these airlines,” he said.

Linda Paul, the new local representative for Allegiant Air, is also making rounds asking for participation in cooperative marketing programs.

Allegiant, based in Fresno, began service June 3 and offers two flights a day, four days a week to Las Vegas and Burbank.

Tahoe Air, based on the South Shore, expects to begin flights June 25 with five daily flights to San Jose and Los Angeles.

Besides grass-roots help and telling customers about the flights, both airlines also expect assistance from the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority.

Davis asked for, and received, $75,000 from the TDVA to apply to its initial 90-day, $380,000 marketing campaign.

“Time is of the essence to catch the summer season,” Davis said in his appeal on Wednesday to the visitors authority to jump start the campaign.

Most of the funds will be spent on advertising in the area. Tahoe Air expects about 20 percent of its business to come from residents.

“This organization fully intends to support service at this airport,” said Skip Sayre, vice-chairman of the visitors authority. “We would like both (airlines) to be successful, but when it comes down to it, this organization needs to be ready to do everything possible.

“Down the road, we can be as much a part of the lack of success as the success.”

Although Allegiant Air beat Tahoe Air to the docking bay, its marketing program is still being formed. Paul expects to present Allegiant’s marketing plan, focused on potential customers in Las Vegas, Burbank and Fresno, to the TDVA board in July.

Independent of the marketing efforts of either airline, the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce has set up a flight information hotline.

Calls to 877-FLY-2SLT (877-359-2758) answer the basic questions of what airlines serve South Lake Tahoe from what cities and when. Callers can then transfer directly to the reservation office of the airline of choice.

Bob Attinger, airport commissioner and a member of the Chamber executive board, offered lodging representatives rolls of stickers with the number to add to their own mailings.

With all the talk, interest is growing.

According to Chamber Executive Director Duane Wallace, the Chamber number rings a couple times a minute.

According to Allegiant, inquiries have increased from 250 calls per day before flights began to 650 calls per day as of last week.

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