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Airlines

Allegiant to Return to MCO in 2024

Allegiant, the leisure-focused ULCC with a penchant for steering clear of major airports, is making a surprising return to Orlando International Airport (MCO). Known for its preference for smaller, out-of-the-way airports, Allegiant’s move back to MCO after a hiatus since 2011 has raised a few eyebrows.

The airline has a history of choosing airports that aren’t exactly the most convenient for travelers, with some even located in different states than their advertised cities. Take, for instance, MidAmerica-St. Louis Airport (BLV), branded as a St. Louis airport but geographically situated pretty far into Illinois, in a rural area on the edge of an Air Force base. Other airports that are served either primarily or exclusively by Allegiant include St. Petersburg, FL (PIE) and Orlando Sanford (SFB). Allegiant’s aversion to major airports is attributed to the airline’s desire to avoid higher landing fees, forcing passengers to trek out to inconvenient locations with fewer options for rental cars and ground transportation.

This aversion to major airports means the airline’s return to MCO is a fairly unexpected (and welcome) move. Starting in May 2024, the airline will operate three routes from MCO:

  • Allentown (ABE): Twice-weekly, commencing on May 16th.
  • Asheville (AVL): Flights ranging from twice to four times weekly, starting on May 3rd.
  • Knoxville (TYS): Twice-weekly, beginning on May 17th.

It’s worth noting that Allegiant’s first foray into MCO back in 2010 didn’t go as planned, leading to the withdrawal of its operations just a year later. This return to MCO may slightly cannibalize Allegiant’s existing operations at Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), so it’ll be interesting to see if these three cities eventually get dropped from SFB.

It’s possible Southwest started this trend of LCCs serving larger airports. For many years, Southwest eschewed major airports such as IAH, ORD, and DFW in favor of HOU, MDW, and DAL, respectively. However, they began serving IAH & ORD in recent years, and the airline is exploring DFW service as soon as 2025.

In addition to the MCO routes, Allegiant has announced nine other new routes, seven of which are entirely new and have never been served by any carrier before. These routes, set to kick off in May 2024, include:

  • Austin (AUS) to Eugene (EUG): Twice-weekly, starting May 31st.
  • Appleton (ATW) to Newark (EWR): Twice-weekly, starting May 17th.
  • Billings (BIL) to Los Angeles (LAX): Twice-weekly, starting May 16th (Allegiant previously operated this route from 2009 to 2021).
  • Bismarck (BIS) to Tampa St Pete (PIE): Twice-weekly, beginning May 15th.
  • Chattanooga (CHA) to Las Vegas (LAS): Twice-weekly, starting May 16th.
  • Rapid City (RAP) to Orlando Sanford (SFB): Twice-weekly, beginning May 15th (Allegiant briefly served in August 2021).
  • Rockford (RFD) to Nashville (BNA): Twice-weekly, starting May 16th.
  • Traverse City (TVC) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL): Twice-weekly, starting May 17th.
  • Washington Dulles (IAD) to Punta Gorda (PGD): Twice-weekly, starting May 16th.

HT: Simple Flying

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