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"Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport may land second carrier"
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport may land second carrier
By Art Thomason and Gary Nelson
The Arizona Republic
The addition of a long-sought second carrier for Phoenix-Mesa Gateway
Airport will be announced Tuesday afternoon.
The expanding airport has been served solely by Allegiant Air since 2008.
The Las Vegas-based carrier has steadily increased the number of its
destinations since then and recently added service to Las Vegas and the Bay
Airport officials, however, have worked for years to lure more carriers to
the airport, a former Air Force base that Valley officials believe will
become a major reliever for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in
Officials would not confirm the identity of the second airline.
A news release announcing Tuesday's news conference said it involves "a
significant announcement regarding new passenger service."
An Allegiant spokeswoman said her company is not involved, providing a
strong indication that another airline will be named.
The lineup for Tuesday's announcement includes Mesa Mayor Scott Smith,
airport director Lynn Kusy and an unnamed "airline official."
A second carrier would be a major boost for an already booming airport that
has undergone several terminal expansions in recent years and is rapidly
becoming an aerospace employment hub.
Phoenix-based Able Engineering is expected to break ground on a Gateway
aircraft-maintenance, parts-fabrication and research facility next year for
its workforce of more than 300. Other aviation firms also have roosted
But the airport has struggled for years to become a passenger hub. During
the past decade, Vision Airlines served Gateway with flights to Las Vegas,
but that ended in 2008.
Two years ago, the airport urged its customers and supporters to lobby San
Francisco-based Virgin America to set up shop there, but that effort went by
Allegiant Air has announced it will begin service early next year from
Gateway to the San Francisco Bay Area and will double its number of flights
to Las Vegas.
The connection between Gateway and Oakland International airports is the
second Allegiant service launched within the past two months that rivals
destinations offered by the state's largest airport in Phoenix.
Allegiant has traditionally avoided competition with major airlines as it
links smaller cities with popular vacation spots. Another carrier at Gateway
could compete with Allegiant markets or link the southeast Mesa airport with
new destinations sought by passengers in surveys.
Airport officials estimate that a million residents in the East Valley and
Pinal County live closer to Gateway than they do to Sky Harbor.
Additional carriers would move the the terminal closer to capacity and
possibly accelerate plans to build a new terminal on the airport's east
Industry analyst Michael Boyd of Colorado-based Boyd Group International
said Gateway's acquisition of another carrier is "more of a reflection of
Phoenix than it is of the airport."
"It's a reflection of increasing value and increasing perception of Phoenix
as a place to go," he said. "What Allegiant did was open more channels of
seats for people that want to vacation there.
"I think you will see other operators go in there," he added. "It probably
won't be American Airlines, ... and it's very unlikely that an airline would
split its operations between Sky Harbor and Gateway."
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