Scott Ball / Rivard Report
This November, Allegiant Air will offer new nonstop flights to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando/Sanford from the San Antonio International Airport (SAT), bringing the total number of nonstop flights out of San Antonio from 35 to 37.
Jude Bricker, Allegiant senior vice president of planning, said the airfare's business model is to provide leisure travel at affordable rates.
"The leisure customer, in our opinion, has been left behind in our industry because of the rise in airfares," Bricker said. "The typical family can't fly at (business class) prices," Bricker said. "Everybody wants to travel but they are just usually prevented by the airfare."
A one-way ticket to these three destinations will cost as low as $49 per person, making it a potential $100 roundtrip flight. Tickets are on sale now on the Allegiant website.
Southwest offers the one-way flight to Las Vegas in early November for as low as $149.
Frank Miller, director of the San Antonio Aviation Department, said Allegiant will bring competition to the San Antonio International Airport, which will drive down prices.
"You bring in a low-cost carrier, they stimulate the market, they carry more passengers, and other airlines respond to that," Miller said.
Mayor Ivy Taylor said it is critical to have more nonstop flights for both business and leisure travelers.
"That's been a little bit of a barrier for us in relation to some of the businesses that have considered our city, and some of the cultural events that we want to have here in town," Taylor said, adding that business travelers usually have tight schedules that can't afford flights with layovers.
"It makes it more attractive for folks who do business with San Antonio that it is not going to take them half of a day to get here," she said.
This logic is the same for entertainers with packed schedules.
"In the past I've heard from some of the folks who were planning some of the festivals here that some of the entertainers who are also on some pretty tight schedules found that they had limited options as far as getting here," Taylor said.
As far as flights to business destinations, she said Boston is at the top of the list.
"With all of the folks that we have here in the Biomedical industry that need to get to Boston ... we are looking at some of those destinations as well," she said.
Taylor said the addition of these flights are an indicator of San Antonio's strong economy.
Mayor Ivy Taylor met with Mayor Steve Adler of Austin this week to discuss the possibility of a regional airport between San Antonio and Austin. San Marcos, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, lies right in the middle.
"Certainly the time is right for us to at least talk about whether or not we need to have a regional airport for the area for years into the future ... I'm a planner so I like to take the long view," she said.
Taylor said a rail line would be a part of the discussion for a regional airport.
"These are long-term projects but if we keep putting off the discussion then that puts off getting to the end," she said.
City Manager Sheryl Sculley said this addition is just the beginning for the San Antonio International Airport.
"We're not going to stop here, we want to work with Allegiant to make sure that we can add more flights and demonstrate the success that is achievable here in San Antonio," Sculley said.
*Featured/top image: Terminal A at the San Antonio International Airport in May 2015. Photo by Scott Ball.