(Host) Allegiant Air will begin nonstop flights between Plattsburgh International Airport and Fort Lauderdale this fall.
Officials in upstate New York say they’re excited to establish regular commercial flights out of the old Air Force base.
As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, Plattsburgh is hoping to take advantage of its proximity to Montreal.
(Sneyd) Officials in Plattsburgh spent a lot of time studying the travel habits of people living in southern Quebec.
The primary conclusion was that a lot of Canadians are interested in escaping cold winters for the beaches of Florida.
Armed with that information, Plattsburgh leaders coaxed Allegiant into their fledgling airport.
Allegiant is based in Las Vegas. It serves small cities like Plattsburgh, flying to Orlando, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
The airline will begin regular, twice-a-week service between Plattsburgh and Fort Lauderdale in November.
Michele Powers of the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce says business officials are eager to use the airport to lure business from Quebec.
(Powers) "This is just one more economic engine that’s going to continue to bring Quebeckers down here, one to fly out and while they’re down here they’ll also be using our support services. So we’re really excited. We’re calling ourselves Montreal’s U.S. airport and really do plan to serve as their secondary airport."
(Sneyd) For a dozen years, Plattsburgh leaders have worked to redevelop the old, 5,000-acre Air Force base.
They’ve had one airline serving the commercial airport – a Continental Airlines commuter service that flies to Boston.
But they want more, especially airlines with nonstop service to other major destinations.
(Powers) "This is hopefully going to be the first of many announcements. We think now that they’ve made the commitment many of the other people we’re in talks with will follow in their shoes."
(Sneyd) But Plattsburgh isn’t the only airport that wants to attract Canadian travelers.
Trudeau Airport just west of Montreal gets the bulk of Quebec’s business. But Burlington International Airport gets its share, too, and wants more.
Burlington airport director Brian Searles says Jet Blue recently announced nonstop service to Orlando beginning next year. That’s a popular wintertime destination for Canadians, too.
He welcomes Plattsburgh’s new airline because he thinks it will draw Canadians to his airport.
(Searles) "Not only will it bring in more passengers to the airways, but it should have a positive effect on ticket prices throughout the area."
(Sneyd) Allegiant’s promotional fares of $79 one way will be good through February. After that, fares will begin at $99.