Allegiant Air has decided to consolidate all its Orlando flying at Sanford Airport from February 2011, just one year after splitting its Orlando operation by moving some flights to Orlando International.

The US low-cost carrier today announced that of all its Orlando International flights will move to Sanford between 1 February and 4 February 2011. Allegiant says it currently operates 29 routes to and from the Orlando area, including 10 at Orlando International and 19 at Sanford.

"Our customers prefer the convenience and simplicity of Sanford, and we're pleased to respond to their overwhelming requests to return all of our Orlando service to the airport," says the president of Allegiant Air parent Allegiant Travel, Andrew Levy. "Additionally, the substantially lower airport operating costs coupled with the more efficient operating environment at Orlando Sanford made this the right decision for Allegiant."

Allegiant only began serving Orlando International early this year. Between February and March it moved 10 of its Sanford routes to Orlando International, which is about 54km south of Sanford and is closer to Walt Disney World and other major Orlando-area tourist attractions. At the same time the carrier also based five of its Boeing MD-80s at Orlando's main airport.

Allegiant now says these 10 routes and five aircraft will shift back to Sanford. It adds that "by consolidating the operations to a single airport in the Orlando area, Allegiant is able to keep costs down and offer its customers the best travel deals".

On 1 February, service to Allentown, Pennsylvania; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Greenville, South Carolina will move back to Sanford. On 2 February, service to Des Moines in Iowa and Youngstown in Ohio will move to Sanford and on 3 February service to Grand Rapids, Michigan will shift back.

Finally on 4 February, flights to Lexington, Kentucky; Springfield, Missouri; Tri-Cities, Tennessee; and Huntington, West Virginia will move to Sanford.

Orlando Sanford International Airport, in its own press release today announcing Allegiant's decision to consolidate its Orlando operation at Sanford, says the 10 routes which moved earlier this year represented about half of Allegiant's previous activity at Sanford. Through the first three quarters of this year, Sanford's domestic traffic was down 39% to 607,000 passengers.

Orlando Sanford International Airport CEO Larry Dale says the airport "received over a thousand emails from people telling us how important it was these flights to operate here. It is very good news indeed to have all of Allegiant's Central Florida operations back at [Sanford], especially given the outpouring of support from the travelling public."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news