PROVO -- Allegiant Air has announced that it will begin flying from Provo to Phoenix on Feb. 15.
The good news comes just in time for Utah County as Frontier Airlines, which is flying from Provo to Denver, will end flights on Jan. 5.
Provo is the second community airport in Utah to offer Allegiant flights. The Ogden-Hinckley Airport partnered with Allegiant earlier this year.
"Provo fits our business model," Carl Zablotny, director of public relations for Allegiant, said. "We bring nonstop flights into smaller cities and take them to the world class Phoenix area. People can start booking now."
According to Zablotny, Allegiant will begin with two flights in and out a week. Flights will leave on Monday and Friday at 5:35 p.m. and arrive at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport at 7:05 p.m. Flights to Provo will leave at 3:30 p.m. and arrive at 4:55 p.m. Phoenix-Mesa is about 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
"We will be flying MD80s. They are full-size jets that currently seat 150 passengers, with two rows on one side and three on the other," Zablotny said. "The MD80s are currently being reconfigured to carry 166 passengers."
A press conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today at the Provo Airport, where Provo city officials and representatives from Allegiant will discuss in more detail the current and potential plans for Allegiant.
"We will be offering an introductory ticket price of $69.99 one way," Zablotny added.
When asked Tuesday evening about the announcement Provo Mayor John Curtis grinned and said, "You'll just have to wait. I won't be making a comment until the press conference."
According to Helen Anderson, Provo's spokeswoman, "details about the flights and destination information are still pending Wednesday's press conference."
Allegiant Airlines doesn't have a specific hub, but flights in and out of Mesa can be booked as connectors to other destinations throughout the U.S., according to Zablotny.
Curtis and Provo Airport manager Steve Gleason have been negotiating for several months with at least six other airlines to bring commercial flights to Provo. For some time there had been talk of flights to the Phoenix area. With that nailed down the next most coveted location is a southern California destination.
It has been only a year and a half since Provo received the news that Frontier Airlines would be bringing the first commercial flights to Provo. Economic concerns forced Frontier to take the Provo route off its schedule earlier this year. Speculation has been at high pitch since that announcement as to which airline would put Provo back in the air.
According to Curtis, Frontier told him Provo's success was not at issue and had brought in flight revenues of nearly $1 million when counting the purchase of second leg trips out of Denver. Provo flights were steady at 85 percent capacity.
Zablotny said, "Allegiant is always looking at capacity." He added they feel good about the Provo fit.
Three commercial flights a day could currently be handled, after which the terminal must be enlarged. Curtis believes the terminal will have to be enlarged sooner than later.