By Richard N. Velotta Friday, March 5, 2010 | 4:06 p.m.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air is going to Hawaii.
The airline’s parent company, Allegiant Travel Co., today announced plans to acquire six Boeing 757-200 twin-engine jets that would have the range to reach the Hawaiian Islands from western cities the airline currently serves.
Allegiant spokeswoman Tyri Squyres said several details of the company’s plans haven’t been determined, such as what routes would be served. Allegiant hasn’t identified what airports it would use in Hawaii and it’s unclear whether the airline would offer flights between Las Vegas and the islands.
Squyres said the timetable for developing service would be based on certifications and regulatory approvals, but she expects details would be announced within a few months.
Western cities currently on Allegiant’s map include Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, Santa Maria, Fresno, Monterey, Oakland and Stockton, Calif.; Medford, Eugene and Bend, Ore.; Bellingham and Pasco, Wash.; and Mesa, Ariz., in addition to Las Vegas.
A release issued by the company said the six 757s are from a single fleet operated by a European company and Allegiant would take delivery of two of the planes within the next two months with the intent of beginning Hawaii service by the fourth quarter. One other plane would be delivered in November and the fourth in January with their use to begin in the first half of 2011. The final two jets would be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011 and in service by the first half of 2012.
The aircraft will come equipped for extended twin-engine operations required for long overwater flights.
The company plans to spend between $75 million and $90 million through 2012 acquiring the jets and preparing them for service. Company officials said that while Allegiant is capable of making the acquisition with available cash, it plans to finance a portion of the purchase.
Allegiant has been anxious to enter the Hawaii market but couldn’t do it with its MD-80 jets, which don’t have the range to fly to the islands.
“Hawaii is the most prominent U.S. leisure destination currently unserved by Allegiant and our small-city customers have been requesting this service,” Maurice Gallagher, chairman and CEO of the airline, said in a statement. “We are very optimistic about our ability to exploit the large third-party ancillary revenue opportunity we believe exists in Hawaii. We expect the sale of hotels, rental cars and many attraction and activities popular with Hawaii visitors will provide a very meaningful contribution to the success of the service.”
“The 757 is a new aircraft type for Allegiant but we otherwise see this program as consistent with our existing business model,” added Allegiant President Andrew Levy. “This transaction will enable Allegiant to extend to Hawaii its strategy of serving large leisure destinations from smaller cities with no existing nonstop service.”
Initially introduced in 1983 by Boeing, the 757 is one of the largest narrow-body commercial jets and capable of holding between 186 and 279 passengers. About 1,000 of the jets are in operation. Delta Air Lines currently has the largest 757 fleet.
The company said the acquisition of the 757s would not affect Allegiant’s efforts to buy more MD-80s. The airline currently operates 46 MD-80s and will have 52 in service by the end of 2010 in addition to the first two 757s.