January route roundup: Where airlines are adding, and cutting, service

This file photo shows an Allegiant Airbus aircraft. (Photo: Allegiant)


Airlines constantly tweak their schedules, trying to find profitable new routes or pulling the plug on ones that have underperformed. Airports and communities court these new services.

There are dozens of changes to airline routes each month. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting:

Allegiant to Alaska (and more)

Allegiant Air will begin flying to Alaska for the first time, adding flights to Anchorage as part of a broader 16-route expansion.

Allegiant’s Anchorage flights will begin May 22, when the ultra-low-cost carrier launches seasonal nonstop service from Bellingham, Washington.

“Alaska is huge news for us,” Drew Wells, Allegiant vice president of planning and revenue, says to USA TODAY. “We’re excited to launch service into any new city, but I think Alaska has a different level of excitement.”

TODAY IN THE SKY: Allegiant: 16 new routes include first-ever Alaska flights

Elsewhere, Allegiant’s 15 other new routes continue a trend in which it has diversified its network. Allegiant has long run a business model focused on offering nonstop flights to high-demand leisure destinations in Las Vegas, Florida and California. But the airline has increasingly been developing bases like New Orleans; Nashville, Tennessee; and Austin, Texas. 

Allegiant’s latest expansion included some of those newer bases, including four new routes to Savannah, Georgia, and two to Norfolk, Virginia.

“This is a really kind of a gateway into Virginia Beach and maybe into the northern parts of the Outer Banks,” Wells said about Norfolk. “We like this as a secondary destination.”

Also getting two new routes: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Allegiant will fly nonstop to 22 destinations once the new flights begin.

USA TODAY TRAVEL: Flying Spirit, Frontier or Allegiant? Here are 12 things you need to know

Perhaps the most interesting new route announced by Allegiant: Nonstop service between Denver and Knoxville, Tennessee. The route will be Allegiant’s second to connect Denver with an airport in the Great Smoky Mountains.

“Last year we launched Denver-Asheville (North Carolina), and we were really pleased the performance,” Wells said.

Spirit sets sights on Raleigh/Durham

Fast-growing Spirit Airlines is making Raleigh/Durham its newest destination, launching seven routes from the North Carolina airport on May 2.

Raleigh/Durham becomes Spirit’s third destination in North Carolina, joining Asheville and Greensboro. It’s also part of an ongoing rapid nationwide expansion by Spirit, which also has already announced plans to add Austin and Indianapolis to its network in 2019. Flights from Jacksonville, Florida, began in December.

TODAY IN THE SKY: Spirit Airlines targets Raleigh/Durham for big expansion, adds 7 routes

Spirit’s new routes from Raleigh/Durham will be: Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Detroit, New Orleans and the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Shrinking WOW Air goes ‘back to basics’

WOW Air will shrink its number of U.S. destinations to just four this summer as it seeks to return to stable financial footing.

By summer, WOW’s only gateways in the United States will be Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Boston, Detroit and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty airport. It marks a retrenchment for the Icelandic budget carrier, which flew to more than a dozen U.S. cities as recently mid-2018.

“We are getting back to our roots, getting back to the basics,” WOW Air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen said in an interview to USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky blog. 

IN PICTURES: 30 cool aviation photos (story continues below)

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