A representative from Allegiant Travel Co, said it would establish an aircraft base at Lehigh Valley International Airport, set to begin operations in February 2020.
The base would be Allegiant’s 18th and bring at least 66 new jobs for pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and others this spring, said Hilarie Grey, managing director of corporate communications for Allegiant.
Allegiant will establish a two-aircraft base that would begin operations Feb. 12. Officials made the announcement on Tuesday morning at PPL Center in Allentown.
The $50 million that the company is investing will go toward aircraft, maintenance and tooling, and ground service equipment, she said.
Allegiant did receive some state and regional incentives to encourage them to choose LVIA as a base, she said.
Overall, Allegiant received about $500,000 from the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, the state Department of Community & Economic Development and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., Grey said.
Sen. Pat Browne confirmed that there was a public finance component to the deal and that there was a competition among other carriers to land a base at the airport.
Browne helped get the state involved in the effort and secured a state grant to encourage Allegiant to choose the airport.
Though the Las Vegas-based company has been a carrier at the Hanover Township, Lehigh County-based airport since 2005, the move would expand its presence at the airport, with the potential to add more routes.
“It gives us that flexibility to add more,” Grey said. “We will be able to build more frequencies. Demand is pointing to this region because it’s growing. Lehigh Valley has been a great success story for a long time.”
Many businesses appear to be moving into the region and like the convenience of a hometown airport, she added.
Grey said whenever Allegiant adds routes, those airline seats fill and Allegiant only flies nonstop, point-to-point destinations.
“Our team members will be spending more time living and working in the Lehigh Valley,” Grey said.
The carrier has routes in 120 cities and has 450 ongoing routes across the U.S., Grey said.
Additionally, it employs more than 4,300 workers across the country.
With the flexibility that a new base would bring for Allegiant, Grey said the carrier would likely be announcing additional flights.
Since it began operating at LVIA, the carrier now offers seven nonstop destinations, said Tom Stoudt, executive director of the Lehigh Northampton Airport Authority.
He noted that Allegiant has already supported regional initiatives at the airport, including events such as Wings for All, which helps people with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities adjust to flying.
The company’s efforts have helped make the airport a critical asset, he added.
“With the ABE [LVIA] family growing, it’s a good indicator of the economy when an airport is successful,” Stoudt said.
Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC, said the airport’s growth also speaks to the overall growth of the region.
“The more vibrant that an airport is, the more flights, the more connectivity to the outside world…that’s a really critical asset to economic growth and community development,” Cunningham said.
The establishment of an Allegiant base at the airport doesn’t require new construction, since there is space under the departure building to add staff, Stoudt said. The airport will fit out the space for their needs.