Thursday, August 02, 2007

Williamson Shoots for Third Airline

The Southern Illinoisan's new Williamson County reporter Megean Sexton broke the story this morning of a possible third carrier coming to the Williamson County Airport.

Airport Manager Doug Kimmel told her that the airport and Allegiant Air are "very near an agreement" to provide air service from Marion to such vacation destinations as Orlando and Las Vegas.

Allegiant specializes in flights two or three times a week from smaller markets to major vacation destinations. They currently fly out of MidAmerica Airport on I-64 near Mascoutah.

"We do believe there is an opportunity in this market for our brand of non-stop, low-cost jet service to vacation destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando," [Allegiant Air Spokesperson Tyri] Squyres said. "We generally start (flights) at two to four times a week — keep the seats full and that ensures we can keep our fares low."

Unlike the smaller planes used in the flights to Chicago (and soon again St. Louis), Allegiant's planes can carry 150 passengers.

The possible deal with Allegiant puts pressure on the airport now to replace its out-dated and soon to be too small terminal which is around 30 years old.

The Federal Aviation Authority awarded the airport a $1 million grant last month for three projects, one of which would pay for a terminal design study.

As to the grounded St. Louis service, no word yet when flights will resume.

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