Allegiant Air hasn't lost interest in Lunken

Low-cost carrier pondering local options

CINCINNATI - Low-cost airline Allegiant Travel Co. told managers of Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport recently that it wants to establish new flights from Cincinnati to Florida by the end of November.

But Lunken Airport Manager Fred Anderton said the city is still months away from any decisions on the matter and an airline spokeswoman said it has no new Cincinnati routes to announce.

“We’re still kind of exploring what can be done and what can’t be done,” Anderton said. “There are as many ‘can’t be dones’ as anything else.”

Lunken has been talking with Allegiant Air for nearly a year about bringing regularly scheduled passenger service back to Lunken. The process requires an environmental impact study, at least three public hearings and the construction of new facilities to handle passenger screening and security.

“They’re flying out of Lexington and Columbus now,” Anderton said. “They’d been getting a lot of passengers from Cincinnati and so they were looking at twice weekly service that would go down to Central Florida. We’ve looked at facilities and what it would cost to put them in and whether it would benefit us to spend our money on that.”

Anderton said the city has yet to sign a letter of intent with Allegiant. The airline announced 18 new routes in late August and Cincinnati was not on the list.

Allegiant is a Las Vegas –based airline that typically operates out of smaller airports and flies to vacation destinations. Its 18 new routes began with round-trip fares starting at $99.

New air service could fill a gap for local travelers, worried about the downsizing of the Delta Air Lines hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, also known as CVG Airport in Hebron. But many east side residents oppose the recruitment of low-cost carriers to Lunken because of noise concerns.

Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said the company is talking to Lunken and CVG but has no new details to announce.

"We talk to a lot of airports all over the country," Wheeler said. "I can't say for sure how close we are" to a Cincinnati announcement.

Anderton said federal rules require that the city explore the prospect of new air service if a commercial carrier requests it. Ultimately, the decision will depend on what new infrastructure the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration requires and what kind of environmental impact the new service would have on Lunken Airport’s neighbors.

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