Metro-East News

Allegiant to begin flights to Destin-Fort Walton Beach out of MidAmerica Airport

Allegiant Airlines announced Tuesday it will begin offering twice-weekly flights from MidAmerica Airport to Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

The discount airline will offer one-way flights for $39 to the Gulf Coast destination with flights beginning June 2.

This will be the fifth destination that Allegiant Air will be serving from MidAmerica.

The total number of passengers leaving MidAmerica for other destinations is now 100,000 a year, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said.

“So this airport is growing,” he said. “It’s being utilized more and more every day.”

To help pave the way, St. Clair County is providing $30,000 in marketing fees to Allegiant, Kern said.

Officials formally announced the new flight destination during a press conference Tuesday morning at the airport. The news hit the airline’s website earlier in the morning and was one of 13 new routes the company was adding to airports around the country.

Lee Warren, Allegiant’s director of planning, said the decision to open the new route was a result of the public’s “fantastic” response to its previously existing flights from MidAmerica to Florida.

“We know that there’s pent-up demand for services to Destin,” Warren said. “We feel the time’s right now to offer this new destination for passengers ... to increase the choices people have to vacation in the region.”

As for the introductory one-way fare of $39 to Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Warren declined to say how long that deal would last. It officially begins on Wednesday for flights that take place in June.

“We’re committed to offering ultra-low fares to people looking for a fantastic vacation choices,” he said. “The average one-way fare in 2015 was $75, so consumers can always be confident we’ll always be offering the best value for them at”

Kern said the county is actively seeking other airlines to begin operations at MidAmerica.

“We’re doing everything we can to bring more destinations to MidAmerica,” Kern said. “Right now we got a great relationship with Allegiant and that’s what we’re talking about today.”

In November, the low-cost airline announced it would begin twice-a-week flights from MidAmerica to Punta Gorda-Fort Myers in Florida starting in February. Allegiant already operates flights to Orlando-Sanford and Tampa in Florida, and Las Vegas out of MidAmerica.

When Allegiant announced its Fort Myers route, the St. Clair County Public Building Commission approved an amendment to the airline’s marketing agreement with the airport, which waives landing fees for one year for any new routes. Allegiant also has received $30,000 to market its Fort Myers route and $30,000 to market its Las Vegas route.

News-Democrat reporter Joseph Bustos contributed to this report.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000