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Allegiant opening base in Austin, becomes latest to double down on Texas capital

April 07, 2021
4 min read
Allegiant Airlines
Allegiant opening base in Austin, becomes latest to double down on Texas capital
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As airlines redraw their route networks, Austin is emerging as a clear winner.

On Tuesday, Allegiant announced that it'll invest $75 million to open a new base at Austin airport's South Terminal (AUS), creating at least 89 jobs and housing three Airbus A320 aircraft.

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By opening a permanent base, Allegiant will station crew members and aircraft in the city, which could pave the way for the carrier to add more frequencies and expand its route network. The airline will immediately begin hiring pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ground personnel to support the Austin operations.

"It makes perfect sense to establish a permanent base in Austin, further establishing Allegiant as a hometown airline in a city we love and where we plan to grow. Having locally-based operations will mean opportunities for expanded hours, as well as more – and more frequent – flight offerings for visitors and locals alike," said Drew Wells, Allegiant's senior vice president of revenue, in a statement.

Allegiant's route network is notably different than the legacy carriers — there are no "hubs." Instead, the Las Vegas-based airline operates an "out-and-back" model, meaning that flights start and end the day at one of 19 bases, instead of funneling operations through major hub airports. (That's also a plus for flight crew, who return home nightly.)

Allegiant first started operating at AUS in October 2013 with just one route to Las Vegas (LAS). Since then, the carrier's grown its Central Texas route-map to 14 nonstop destinations, including soon-to-launch service to Bozeman, Montana (BZN) and Bentonville, Arkansas (XNA).

More Allegiant routes: Allegiant unveils 34 nonstop routes for spring, summer schedule

When the new base opens on Nov. 18, 2021, Allegiant will face stiff competition for traffic. Austin is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, and there’s been a steady stream of companies moving into the Texas capital. Plus, with the city’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene, it’s a popular destination for leisure travelers.

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So, it's no surprise that airlines are noticing.

Downtown Austin skyline (Photo by Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock)

American Airlines recently unveiled ten new year-round and seasonal Austin routes beginning on May 6, in what the Fort Worth-based carrier is calling a "long-term" play that's "at the front-end of our growth" in the city.

Despite the pandemic, American's strategy appeals to both leisure travelers and corporate road warriors, who haven't yet return to the skies en masse. The carrier is seemingly trying to position itself as the airline of choice for Austin-based travelers, though it's not yet ready to call it a "focus city."

Austin love: AA exec talks about the future of Austin

Less than two weeks ago, Southwest detailed its latest pandemic-era network expansion, which included seven new routes to Austin, bringing the summer 2021 total to a whopping 37 cities served nonstop from AUS.

In the announcement, Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s chief commercial officer, didn't mince his words: "While other carriers have fallen in and out of love with Austin across the years, we’re continuing to build on nearly 45 years of offering affordable and relevant air service for Central Texans and those who are headed there.”

Meanwhile, Delta also remains committed to Austin — only two of the carrier's five focus cities will survive the pandemic, with Austin and Raleigh-Durham (RDU) returning. (Former-hub Cincinnati (CVG), as well as Nashville (BNA) and San Jose will lose their focus-city status.)

More Delta news: Delta pares back San Jose, drops New York-JFK nonstop

It's not just "Big 4" that are boosting Austin. Alaska, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue have all unveiled new routes to the city this year. The one notable exception is United, which continues to exclusively serve the city from its seven domestic hubs.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more