To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 9.0.115 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.
(NECN: Lauren Collins, Portsmouth, N.H.) - The passenger terminal at Pease International Airport has been all but empty for the last five years.
But this fall, announced Pease Development Authority’s Dave Mullen, "Allegiant Airlines is going to start service as of Oct. 25. Two flights. Friday and Monday."
Introductory fares are about $100 round trip to Orlando-Sanford, Fla., the only location to start.
Allegiant’s Eric Fletcher explains, "Our airline business model is based on low frequency. We fly a big plane in. Instead of daily service, we fly it in a couple of times a week."
Allegiant says it will add flights and destinations if the demand is there. The airline attracts primarily snowbirds and southern skiers.
"The largest number of ski clubs are in Florida, and they band together a charter a plane and come north. So we're gonna be trying to take advantage of all of the opportunities and market to all those groups," Mullen says.
The airline claims shockingly low fares, but a quick search of round trip tickets after the introductory period shows they're in line, or more costly, than similar options. A March 3 departure with a March 7 return runs about $345. A comparable flight on Southwest out of Manchester is $223, $240 for a flight on Jet Blue out of Boston. Consumer watchdogs also criticize Allegiant for high fees.
Still, Mullen says Allegiant is the most cost effective and convenient option for the seacoast.
"We know our market is southern Florida, and they serve this market place very well so we hope that the locals will come here, park for free, and get on a plane and head south," he says.
This is the second run for Allegiant in Portsmouth. It was the only commercial carrier at Pease from 2005 to 2007. Community leaders hope this attempt is a ticket to success.