Allegiant eyes more Central Nebraska flights

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Leisure carrier Allegiant Air is negotiating with Central Nebraska Regional airport about linking the Grand Island facility with Arizona's Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport.

The airline has indicated it would like to start twice weekly service around 15 October, Central Nebraska executive airport director Mike Olson says, adding that plans have not been finalised.

An Allegiant spokeswoman says the carrier has only suggested an interest in adding flights between Grand Island and Phoenix-Mesa.

Central Nebraska has offered Allegiant, which began linking the facility with Las Vegas twice weekly last year, several incentives including waived terminal fees and landing fees for the first year of new service.

Olson says the Phoenix-Mesa landing fee waiver represents a savings of roughly $10,500.

In addition to fee waivers, the airport may use up to $130,000 in incentives to attract new airline service to California, Arizona and Florida. Incentives include a $90,000 credit for airlines to use toward local costs such as ground handling, tickets counters and fuel flowage fees, in addition to a $40,000 marketing fund.

No other carrier has proposed flights to California, Arizona or Florida, so it is possible Allegiant could take advantage of the entire incentive.

Incentives are only part of Central Nebraska's efforts to develop new air service. The airport intends to lengthen its 7,000-ft (2,133m) runway to 8,000ft likely by 2012 to better attract flights from Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida.

Airport operator Hall County Airport Authority approved on 8 July plans for the airport to begin working toward a runway extension in October 2010.

Olson says extension plans will be submitted to the FAA for approval in the next couple of weeks.