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Allegiant to add new base in Grand Rapids

Allegiant Air will open a new aircraft base in Grand Rapids in June, as it also continues to evaluate adding long-anticipated international service to its network.

The Las Vegas-based airline will base two aircraft at Grand Rapids from 4 June, where it expects to create 60 new jobs. The city in Michigan will be the airline's 16th base. Allegiant is investing $42 million in the new base.

The move will open up new route opportunities from Grand Rapids, and help relieve some of the other Allegiant bases, the airline's vice-president of revenue and planning Drew Wells tells FlightGlobal.

"With the number of of hours you can operate with a single crew, getting a plane from an existing base, say in Florida, to Grand Rapids then to a secondary destination like Nashville and back to Florida would have been too long." explains Wells. "This [new base] will allow us to open up new opportunities from Grand Rapids that would otherwise have been very difficult for us."

Unlike most carriers, Allegiant crew members return to their base every night.

The airline will serve nine cities from Grand Rapids from 6 June, when it adds new seasonal service to Nashville and Savannah. The route is among 16 new routes – most of which are seasonal – being unveiled by Allegiant today.

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Allegiant, FlightGlobal schedules data

As part of the new service, Allegiant is launching its first flights to Alaska with seasonal service to Anchorage from Bellingham (Washington). "The Northwest has incredible draw to Alaska in the summer," says Wells. "You can see massive service from other cities and Bellingham remains unserved."

Separately, the ultra low-cost carrier is continuing to study international service – which it has evaluated in previous years but not launched. "We are hopeful to be selling by the end of this year," says Wells. "We are not necessarily committing to it but that's where we want to be."

The airline typically prefers having a 90 to 100-day selling window before operations begin, he points out.

Potential international routes for Allegiant include the Mexican beach destinations of Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, says Wells. Work to develop the IT capabilities to allow the airline to handle international scheduled service is at the top of the list of priorities for Allegiant, he adds.

Allegiant has experience in operating charter service to Mexico.

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