Allegiant Air, Gateway: Aloha, passengers to Honolulu

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport continued to ramp up its service, adding yet another destination to its ever-expanding list.

Allegiant Air is launching a new non-stop flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, and it's already booking reservations online.

Plans call for three flights a week starting Feb. 8, with one-way fares of $199. That introductory fare is available through Aug. 28 for flights booked through April 16, 2013.

The promotional fare is about half what other carriers are charging right now.

Allegiant launched its Honolulu routes in June with non-stop flights from Las Vegas and Fresno, Calif. It has been adding departures from West Coast cities since. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway is the 10th.

The company added Boeing 757s to its fleet, which had previously been all MD-80s, specifically for the Honolulu flights. The 757s have a seating capacity of 223. This route marks the first time 757s have flown out of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway.

While there are a variety of options to get to Hawaii from Phoenix, the low-cost niche was left open when ATA Airlines shut down four years ago. Southwest reportedly has been considering a Hawaiian route for some time, but it has yet to make a formal decision, which means implementation is still a ways off.

Based in Las Vegas, Allegiant has been ramping up service at Gateway as it continues to focus "on linking travelers in small cities to world-class leisure destinations."

Allegiant's announcement comes on the heels of another big addition, this one from Frontier Airlines. Starting in November, Frontier will offer daily flights to its primary hub in Denver. This made Frontier the third airline to offer service at Gateway.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA), formerly Williams Air Force Base, serves more than cities nationwide with non-stop flights by Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit Airlines.

Earlier this year, AZA announced that it served 378,144 travelers in the first quarter of 2012. That's a 51-percent increase over the same time period in 2011. Airport staff say they anticipate a total of 1.2 million people will have passed  through their gates by the end of the year.

Airport officials attributed that significant uptick to the increase in flights and destinations out of AZA.

Honolulu is the first high-profile luxury destination for AZA, which also offers non-stop flights smaller cities like Appleton, Wisc.; Bellingham, Wash.; Bismarck and Fargo, N.D.; Las Vegas; Ogden, Utah and South Bend, Ind.

“This is exciting news because Hawaii is a destination near the top of the list for travelers,” Mesa Mayor and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Authority Chair Scott Smith said in a news release. “It also shows that Gateway is growing and maturing as an airport and we look forward to announcing even more great destinations.”

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport was established in 1994 and is owned and operated by the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority, which consists of the Gila River Indian Community, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, and Queen Creek.

The airport started offering commercial service in 2007. With more than 171,000 takeoffs and landing last year, AZA is now considered one of the fastest-growing hub airports in the country.

In May, the Arizona Department of Transportation named AZA its 2012 Airport of the Year. There are 83 airports in ADOT's system, plus an additional 11 private airstrips and 14 Native American-owned airports.

AZA plans to wrap up construction in November on a 30,000-square-foot expansion that will add two gates.