Allegiant Air: What made the airline decide to start LAX-HNL?

Allegiant Air is entering the crowded Los Angeles-Honolulu market.

Allegiant Air is entering the crowded Los Angeles-Honolulu market. Above, a picture of one of the airline’s MD-80s. It’s using 757 on the Honolulu route.

Allegiant Air has made a fortune – more than 40 consecutive profitable quarters  - by following a relatively simple business plan: Take travelers from small towns and fly them to the beach or the desert.

Allegiant  has some interesting cities in its route structure, including Belleville, Ill., Bismarck, N.D., Casper, Wy., and Grand Island, Neb. The trick is to tie those cities with places like Los Angeles, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando.

So why, then, did Allegiant recently announce plans to fly from Los Angeles International Airport – one of the world’s busiest airports – to Honolulu. Is this a change in the carrier’s business plan? I wrote about the issue for in Tuesday’s newspaper. 

Here’s what Jessica Wheeler, the airline’s spokeswoman, had to say about the new route. She compared it to the airline’s existing Las Vegas – Honolulu flight, which she said has been performing well. That was one of the first flights Allegiant started between two major cities.

“What we found was we were able to do it at a price point that no one else was able to do,” Wheeler said. “We were able to reach this under served community.”

But Wheeler said it’s wrong to think that Allegiant is changing its  way of doing business. ”I think that this is complementary to our business model,” she said, noting that the smaller airports will remain the focus for the airline.

The new LAX-Hawaii service will begin in October. But don’t expect to it last the entire year. Wheeler said Allegiant at first expected demand would be strong year round for Hawaii flights. But instead it found demand was much higher in the winter.

Allegiant does not like flying planes that aren’t full. That’s not profitable. So the airline likely will use its 757s elsewhere next summer. And then maybe it will put them back in Hawaii.

“What we are seeing is Hawaii is a lot more seasonal than we expected,” she said. “It’s looking  a little more like Florida and Las Vegas. But we’re not afraid of seasonality. We are not afraid of being flexible.”

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