St. Clair County hired a consulting firm to help its efforts to expand passenger service at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah.
Sixel Consulting Group, based in Eugene, Ore., will complete a market study gauging the need for passenger service from MidAmerica and serve as a spokesman for the airport.
The county's Public Building Commission, which oversees the airport, hired the company during a Tuesday meeting.
The $15,000 study will help with ongoing discussions to persuade Allegiant Air to expand its passenger service at MidAmerica this fall, according to MidAmerica Director Tim Cantwell. Allegiant Air could not be reached for comment as of press time.
MidAmerica previously hired Mead and Hunt, based in Madison, Wis., to perform consulting services, but the consultant company later entered into a contract with Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in St. Louis.
The county has been without a consultant firm for the past 31/2 years, Cantwell said.
Allegiant Air currently flies nonstop, round-trip flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport, near Orlando, Fla., Allegiant fills an average 142 of the 166 seats on flights to Orlando, with some flights completely booked, Cantwell said.
The airline returned passenger service to MidAmerica in November after canceling local flights to Orlando and Las Vegas in 2008.
The potential expansion of passenger service might signal a shift in the local market for low-cost airfare, Cantwell said.
Previously, Allegiant struggled to compete with the fares of Southwest Airlines flying out of Lambert airport. A change in Southwest's fee structure opened the possibility of Allegiant expanding into the region's market.
Allegiant announced last week the airline was expanding routes between five different airports, including a route between Chicago Rockford International Airport and Fort Myers, Fla.
The airline added 41 new routes in 2012, which included 11 new markets and returning service to three previous markets (including MidAmerica).
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.