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County signs five-year deal with Allegiant Air
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Airport Director Noah Lagos tells Pinellas County Commissioners Oct. 22 that he is pleased with the new five-year agreement Allegiant to provide air service to and from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE).
Allegiant Air offers nonstop flights to 31 destinations from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE). Pinellas County Commissioners approved a new five-year agreement with the airline Oct. 22.
CLEARWATER – Allegiant Air will be flying in and out of the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport for at least another five years.

Pinellas County Commissioners approved a new operating agreement Oct. 22 that keeps the airline at the local airport through 2018. The term runs from Nov. 16 through Sept. 30, 2018.

Airport Director Noah Lagos said he was pleased with the contract and the progress made over the years since Allegiant began flying out of St. Pete-Clearwater (PIE) on Nov. 16, 2006.

“We’ve come a long way baby,” he said.

When Allegiant began air service out of PIE in 2006, it provided nonstop service to 12 cities and averaged 29 flights a week during its first year. The air service will soon offer nonstop flights to 31 destinations. Allegiant plans to begin service to six new destinations beginning Oct. 31 with flights to all cities available by end of November.

New destinations include Stewart, N.Y. on Oct. 31, Elmira, N.Y. on Nov. 1, Sioux Falls, S.D. on Nov. 1, Syracuse, N.Y. on Nov. 7, Fargo, N.D. on Nov. 23 and Columbus Ohio on Nov. 23.

Lagos said the first seven years working with Allegiant had been successful with PIE poised to serve one million passengers in 2013 with 939,000 coming from Allegiant’s flights. Lagos estimates passenger growth at about 4 percent a year over the life of the new contract.

The five-year agreement gives Allegiant “rights and privileges” to use the county’s airport. In return, PIE is set to earn $5.3 million from landing fees, terminal facility fees and passenger security screening fees. Another $21.5 million in indirect revenue could come from car rentals, parking fees, restaurant and lounge, gift shop and other passenger services. Add more than $12 million in passenger facility charges, overall revenue estimates total more than $39 million.

The agreement waives airport charges and fees for flights Allegiant adds to new destinations for one to two years. The county also agrees to provide direct market support up to $75,000 per city per year for “long haul” flights to U.S. destinations such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and others, as well as international destinations, other than Canada. Direct marketing funds are capped at $150,000 a year.

Lagos said Allegiant plans to add newer airplanes to its fleet that hold more passengers, fly farther and are able to use shorter runways to take off and land. The new planes will allow Allegiant to serve more destinations, including cities in Mexico and the Caribbean sometime in the future.

Airport rates and charges for Allegiant have remained fixed through the first five-year contract and subsequent two-year contract. The new agreement includes increases in years two through four, Lagos said. Even with the increases, the costs for Allegiant are the lowest of any city it serves, Lagos said.

“They have a mighty good deal with us,” he said.

Lagos attributes growth at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to its lack of debt, thanks to the pay-as-you-go policy for capital projects.

“We have no mortgage,” he said.

Lagos said partnership with Allegiant is going “onward and upward.”

“I hope you are pleased with this (agreement). It sets a solid pallet for the next five years,” Lagos said.

Commissioners agreed unanimously that they were pleased with their airport director's “outstanding” negotiation skills.

A million passengers is a “big deal for this county,” Commission Chair Ken Welch said.
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