Fast facts about Allegiant Travel Co., parent of Allegiant Air. Laura Ruane/news-press.com
Allegiant Air reckons that’s how many passengers it has served in Florida since launching flights in the Sunshine State 13 years ago.
To celebrate that milestone, the carrier on Thursday surprised passengers about to embark on a morning flight from Florida’s Punta Gorda Airport (airport code PGD) to Cincinnati with some welcome news: Allegiant would refund their full round-trip fares, seat and bag fees.
Amid hearty applause and a few joyful whoops, Allegiant spokeswoman Kimberly Schaefer continued, addressing passengers: “We’re so grateful for the support we have from airport partners like PGD … and we’re really grateful to you. Thank you so much, for traveling with us.”
Similar celebrations were planned throughout the day at Allegiant’s other Florida airports, which include Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Orlando-Sanford and Destin.
El Jobean resident Theresa Bruce, 56, called the gesture “pretty sweet.” Bruce, who’s flying north to attend a funeral, thinks her refund will be about $200.
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She plans to “pay it forward,” by giving a similar amount to help the family of the deceased person with expenses.
Bruce, an early retiree who moved to southwest Florida three years ago, estimates she’s flown Allegiant as many as 20 times since then.
Allegiant is the sole carrier at Punta Gorda Airport, located about 20 miles north of downtown Fort Myers.
Allegiant began flights to and from Punta Gorda in 2009, with service growing rapidly since then.
In August, the carrier announced three new nonstop routes – to Albany, New York, Syracuse, New York, and Appleton, Wisconsin – in time for the high-demand seasons of winter and early spring.
Once that new service starts rolling out in mid-November, Allegiant will fly to 56 cities out of Punta Gorda.
Punta Gorda Airport is Allegiant’s fourth largest operation, with six to nine Airbus A320s stationed on site, depending on the season. It attracts local travelers from the Tampa Bay area south to Marco Island. Airport officials predict the 2018 passenger count will total nearly 1.5 million by the end of December.
Allegiant Travel Co. is best known here for its low-fare airline. However, it’s also moving forward with plans for its first Sunseeker Resort on the Charlotte Harbor-Peace River waterfront – about 7 miles from Punta Gorda Airport.
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