Feb 21, 2012 5:35 PM by David Ortiviz
A big blow for Pueblo's airport. Less than two years after the city took a gamble, subsidizing flights to Las Vegas--the air carrier is pulling out. Now the number of passengers at Pueblo Memorial Airport could drop by more than half.
"Obviously it's a bummer and we're disappointed in it," said Mark Lovin, the airport's director of aviation. Allegiant Air recently announced plans to stop round-trip flights from Pueblo to Las Vegas on April 8th.
Less than two years ago the city made a big splash announcing the flights to Vegas twice a week. The Pueblo community even gave Allegiant a break on airport usage fees. However the gamble, didn't pay off.
"The flight down here actually sold pretty well," said Lovin. "The flight although profitable, I don't think it was profitable for Allegiant's model," he added.
Lovin says Allegiant attracted a lot of passengers, but not enough of them bought the air carrier's add-ons, including hotel rooms, rental cars and shows on the Vegas strip. "They made a decision to re-deploy those assets, mainly the aircraft to other markets where they think they can generate those revenues," said Lovin.
Allegiant's Vegas flights will cost the Pueblo airport about 13,000 passengers a year, a whopping 65% of its commercial traffic. Lovin says the good news, daily flights on Great Lakes to Denver have jumped 20% in the last two years.
Also military training is big business at the airport. Doss Aviation averages about 150,000 flights a year. "Fortunately for the airport we're a very diversified kind of facility," said Lovin.
In fact, they're building a new $13 million runway and are looking for new carriers. "We have to move on and we have to stay aggressive, I think that's the key," said Lovin.
Pueblo Memorial Airport will continue to offer daily commercial flights to the Mile High City and chartered flights to Laughlin, Nevada.