PROVO -- For two years Mesa, Ariz., Mayor Scott Smith has been lobbying Provo Mayor John Curtis to figure out a way to get flights to and from his city. On Friday Allegiant Air answered mayor Smith's desire by starting the first round-trip flights between the cities.
"Allegiant works in matching our culture for thriftiness," Curtis said. "I think it's going to be a hit. They are pushing to add more flights because of their business model."
Curtis said in an Allegiant news release, "Everywhere I go and in every meeting I attend, people ask me about how our airport is doing. There is excitement expressed consistently by our residents on how much they're looking forward to being on a low-cost, direct flight to the Phoenix area." 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. Times are subject to change. Phoenix-Mesa is about 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
To prepare for the new airline, the Provo city airport had to enlarge the waiting terminal from 100 to 166 seats to accommodate passengers on the planes that Allegiant flies. While the terminal was enlarged, passengers are still relegated to picking up their baggage outside, and will do so until the city is ready to invest a substantial amount in a larger terminal.
Both flights in and out on Friday were full. Aimee Tucker of Gilbert, Ariz., flew in Friday to visit her friend Gayle Hoopes for the weekend. She said she wasn't aware it was the inaugural flight into Provo until she got on the plane and they announced it.
"Everything went smooth and they were very courteous," Tucker said. She said she had seen on some blogs that Allegiant was flying into Provo so she thought it would be a good time to visit Hoopes.
According to airport manager Steve Gleason, flights are pretty much full for almost the next four months.
"I think it's great to keep commercial flights at the airport," Gleason said. "A lot of people want to go to Mesa."
Gleason said sales are going well so far. Allegiant looks for smaller markets, is geared toward vacation packages, has no hubs like other airlines and its pilots fly to and from their destinations within the same day and usually wake up and go to sleep in the same location -- home.
Andrew C. Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Company said, "We are pleased to extend the Allegiant brand of low-cost, non-stop flights to Provo residents."
A special inaugural fair of $62.99 is being offered on a number of seats on each flight. Considered a strong regional airline, Allegiant has been in the black for 40 straight quarters. Flights in and out of Mesa can be booked as connectors to other destinations throughout the U.S. Allegiant Air specializes in vacation packages that include flights, hotel and rental car accommodations.
According to Gleason, if Allegiant gets the customers it is anticipating it could open other flights, including to southern California and even Hawaii.
"If we can get three flights a day -- successful flights -- we will need to look at a bigger terminal," Gleason said.
Provo is the second Utah airport to host Allegiant Air. The Ogden-Hinckley Airport partnered with Allegiant earlier last year.