Allegiant Air to suspend flights out of Gary
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 27, 2012 10:22PM
Updated: August 30, 2012 10:01PM
GARY — Allegiant Air is suspending flights between Gary and Orlando for six weeks, but that fact should not be viewed as indicative of the airline’s lack of commitment to the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
The airline, which will suspend its Gary route starting Sept. 6 and restart Oct. 18, suspends flights at roughly half of its origination airports in order to remain profitable, Interim Airport Director Steve Landry said Monday. It has chosen to suspend those flights at Gary during those dates because with summer ending and school starting, Allegiant saw there was exceptionally light booking.
“Rather than incur the financial loss of buying fuel and ticket sales not covering the costs, Allegiant will make a ‘seasonal adjustment,’ ” Landry said. “They see they won’t make a profit, but they’re also not incurring a loss.
“Seasonal adjustments have helped the airline remain profitable where others haven’t.”
Still, based on the track records of other airlines that have come and gone, Landry understands it looks like a precursor to another airline leaving. To that end, he pointed to the airline’s Web site, where passengers can start booking flights again Oct. 18 and all the way through April 14, 2013.
He also points to the airline’s “Vote for Vacation” promotion at the Radisson Star Plaza’s south parking lot Sept. 13.
“The airline is hosting a huge promotion during the second week of the seasonal adjustment here. They wouldn’t do that if they were leaving,” he said. “Gary isn’t being singled out in any way.”
Landry said Allegiant representatives hadn’t spoken to him about the possibility of seasonal adjustments during negotiations, but then they couldn’t have because they had no data from Gary at the time. In a presentation by Allegiant Travel Co. provided by Landry, however, the company makes several references to “variable capacity” and says the “frequency of flights are matched to demand for flights.”
In looking at other origination airports, the seasonal adjustments vary greatly. For example, Appleton/Green Bay, Wis., is currently in at least a three-month adjustment and won’t resume flights until November.
It, too, books out until April 2013.
“Other airports who had three flights a week might’ve gotten pared down to two for their adjustment,” Landry said.“This isn’t a new thing for them; it’s just new to us.”
Landry said Allegiant has had more than 5,000 passengers fly to Orlando from Gary between mid-February and the end of June but didn’t have the numbers that determined the adjustment. As well, anyone who had booked September flights should have been notified by Allegiant that they would have to rebook.