Less than five months after Allegiant Air canceled its nonstop flight to Las Vegas, the self-proclaimed destination carrier announced another direct route for Toledo Express travelers - the Tampa Bay area.
With gifts of snorkel gear and swim fins for Toledo officials, Chris Stacey, the firm's consumer marketing director, said the company will begin the service from Toledo Express Airport to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport on Dec. 12. Allegiant Air has local flights to and from Orlando.
"It was one of the goals for this year," airport Director Paul Toth said of the Tampa Bay flight.
With service Tuesday and Friday, flights will depart Toledo at 10:30 a.m. and arrive in Tampa Bay at 1:10 p.m. Flights from Tampa Bay will depart at 7:20 a.m. and arrive in Toledo at 9:55 a.m.
The 9-year-old airline specializes in relatively smaller markets and the leisure travel business. It arrived in Toledo last fall, replacing TransMeridian Airlines, which abruptly ceased operations at the airport, possibly because of rising fuel prices.
The Allegiant announced at the time direct service to Orlando and Las Vegas. Mr. Stacey said that the amount of fuel needed to run nonstop service to Las Vegas made the flights cost prohibitive, so the flights were cancelled.
Airline officials said that market research and input from local community leaders indicated that the Toledo area would welcome the Tampa Bay area flight.
Maria Gonzalez, a local travel agent, said she was thrilled to hear the news.
"We try to get people flying out of Toledo, but many people who are older or who have families don't want connecting flights," she said. "Florida is a major, major destination."
Mr. Toth explained that the Tampa Bay area was in the top five destinations sought by airport officials. Others are Atlanta, Chicago, and Orlando, which the airport already serves, and a new priority, New York City.
To help kick off its new service, Allegiant is offering limited one-way fares to Tampa Bay for $59 for those traveling through Jan. 31. After the introductory period, which ends Oct. 7, regular one-way fares on the route start at $79.
Reservations can be made online at www.allegiantair.com or by calling 702-505-8888.