Allegiant Air adds Traverse City flights

Cherry Capital Airport Director Kevin Klein speaks during Tuesday's announcement that Allegiant Air in October will begin non-stop flights between Traverse City and three Florida airports.

TRAVERSE CITY — Allegiant Air in October will begin offering twice-weekly non-stop flights between Traverse City and three Florida destinations: Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda/Fort Myers and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

The airline offers low fares aboard its all-jet fleet and focuses on leisure destinations.

"I hear that every day: 'When are we going to get a discount airline in Traverse City?'" Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers said at an announcement event Tuesday at Cherry Capital Airport.

Flights to and from Orlando Sanford International Airport will begin Oct. 17 and will be offered year-round on Thursdays and Sundays.

Flights to and from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will begin Oct. 16 and will be offered year-round on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Flights to and from Punta Gorda Airport will begin Oct. 17 and will be offered seasonally, in winter and spring, on Thursdays and Sundays.

Flight options have been growing rapidly at Cherry Capital Airport. American, Delta and United have added seasonal summer flights in recent years. The airport in March added Elite Airways direct flights to and from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in Florida.

The increased air traffic to the region is viewed by many as a big plus for business.

"People may not play our course this year, but they'll go home and tell other people about northern Michigan," said Kevin O'Brien, general manager and director of golf at LochenHeath Golf Club in Williamsburg.

He was among the many local officials and business representatives who attended Tuesday's announcement.

Allegiant sees profit in its Traverse City route.

"Our planning team is very data driven," said Allegiant Air Director of Public Relations Kimberly Schaefer. "We see a pent-up demand."

Cherry Capital Airport management has devoted continuing effort to attract more commercial flights to the airport.

"It takes a lot of time to cultivate a message to attract new flights," said airport Director Kevin Klein.

Allegiant is offering $69 introductory one-way fares on some flights, on limited dates — but to get that price, tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, June 19.

The airline's website on Tuesday showed one-way fares from Traverse City to Orlando ranging from $69 to $245, depending on date. The company operates more than 80 aircraft and serves more than 400 routes.