VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Mahoning Valley is about to lose its only commercial airline flying in and out of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
Allegiant Airlines announced this week that it is stopping service after about 11 years with the airport in Vienna.
Service is expected to end on January 4.
Airport directors first started hearing unconfirmed rumors that the airline might be changing its service in Vienna but said nothing was formally conveyed in writing to leaders with the Western Reserve Port Authority, which operates the airport.
Allegiant issued the following statement Friday, saying there simply weren’t enough passengers:
Allegiant will end its service at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, effective Jan. 4, 2018. Demand in the area was simply not high enough to continue service at this time. Any passengers that have booked travel in or out of Youngstown after that date will be reached out to individually to be refunded or reaccommodated. Travelers can still fly with us at nearby airports with Allegiant service, including Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport.
John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, disputed that the service didn’t have enough demand, however. He said flights had over 90 percent occupancy.
“We know what the numbers were. We had a very high percent occupancy on those flights. We had a very high percentage occupancy on flights that Allegiant canceled prior,” he said.
When Allegiant Air first started flying in and out of the Valley, this was the carrier’s only stop within a couple hundred miles. Now, Allegiant flies in and out of both Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
“Something has changed how they look at their business model. Something has changed in terms of how they operate and where they want to go,” Moliterno said.
While Moliterno calls Allegiant’s decision disappointing, he said commercial service makes up only about 10 percent of the overall business using the airport in Vienna. He said private planes, charters and the Air Force make up most of the traffic.
Still, he said officials will continue looking for another carrier to fill the void Allegiant leaves behind.
“We know that our people supported those flights. That our people want flights back, and we’re gonna do everything we can to get ’em,” he said.
Allegiant is now reaching out to tcustomers with existing reservations — offering either refunds or alternate flights using other airports.