Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is emerging as one of the most fiercely contested airports in the United States. With no major dominant airline in and out of Austin, though some clear leaders are emerging, every airline is trying to get as large of a share of passengers out of the airport as possible. Now, ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) Allegiant Air is coming to the airport with plans to open a base at the airport in November.
Allegiant Air’s new Austin base
Allegiant Air plans to establish a new base in AUS. The airline will invest $75 million to establish the new base, creating at least 89 high-wage jobs in Austin. The base will also be home to three Airbus A320 aircraft. The base is scheduled to open on November 18th, 2021.
Drew Wells, Allegiant’s senior vice president of revenue, stated the following on the new base:
“Austin has been a really exciting location for Allegiant – not only do leisure travelers appreciate having convenient access to the incredible music scene, cultural and historic attractions the community has to offer, but local residents have also flocked to our affordable, nonstop flights for their travel needs. It makes perfect sense to establish a permanent base in Austin, further establishing Allegiant as a hometown airline in a city we love and where we plan to grow. Having locally-based operations will mean opportunities for expanded hours, as well as more – and more frequent – flight offerings for visitors and locals alike.”
Allegiant has been at AUS since October 2013. The first service out of Austin was to Las Vegas. Since then, the airline has grown to offer 14 nonstop routes, including Orlando, the Florida panhandle, Cincinnati, Memphis, Knoxville, Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Des Moines, Asheville, and Grand Rapids. Additional new flights to Bozeman and Bentonville will start this summer.
Allegiant’s model and abilities in Austin
Allegiant Air categorizes its network as an “out-and-back” one. The airline operates exclusively nonstop routes and does not sell any connections, even though it has large bases in cities like Las Vegas and Orlando.
With the new base in Austin, the airline wants to ensure that it can offer flexibility for passengers to choose their flight times and future route opportunities. The airline thinks it can do this as locally-based crew members return home nightly to Austin.
Allegiant’s base will be out of the South Terminal at Austin. The South Terminal is home to another low-cost carrier, Frontier Airlines. This is separate from the Barbara Jordan Terminal at Austin, where most major airlines fly out of AUS.
The airline could easily expand further out of Austin, offering more flights to destinations in Florida or California. For example, the airline does not fly nonstop to any California or Arizona cities out of Austin and only serves two Florida cities nonstop out of AUS.
Austin is growing more and more competitive
Austin is becoming, essentially, a focus city for American Airlines, and coupled with Southwest’s large presence and nonstop presence out of the airport, large airlines are battling it out. Southwest has also not been shy about adding new flights to counter growth from other airlines.
Moreover, Delta still considers Austin a focus city, though it operates very few nonstop routes out of Austin, with most routes scheduled to its hubs. And, in just a few weeks, Hawaiian Airlines will inaugurate nonstop flights to Austin.
When all is said and done, there is no time like the present for airlines to stake their position in Austin. American is coming in early, Southwest has a legacy presence and is expanding, and now Allegiant is focused on getting its own routes and aircraft in there.
Allegiant is less focused on market share and is more interested in preserving its business and model’s viability. The airline flies nonstop routes only a few times a week around a leisure-oriented schedule. Allegiant’s goal is to focus on gaining travelers in its own right and get its foot in the market before it becomes overrun with larger carriers, all fighting tooth and nail for every last passenger out of Austin. As those airlines battle it out, Austin-based passengers are set to benefit.
Do you think Allegiant’s idea for a new base in Austin is a good idea? Where do you want Allegiant to fly out of Austin? Let us know in the comments!