By Kalea Hall
A service announcement today by Akron-Canton Airport officials could be a cause for concern for competing airfields.
Officials are expected to announce a “major” air service for Akron-Canton, though officials would not elaborate beyond calling the news “a game changer.”
Similar to Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, Akron-Canton also has Allegiant service.
Allegiant told The Vindicator it has no “immediate plans” to add service in Akron or Youngstown.
Still, new flights at one airport could have an impact on the traffic at nearby airports, one analyst said.
“The issue here is the airlines in general have been practicing capacity constraint,” said Brett Snyder, founder and author of Cranky Flier, an airline-industry blog. “Over the last several years, they have worked hard to be conservative. It’s just a tougher market.”
In May 2015, Allegiant made its debut in Akron with service to Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., and Savannah Ga./Hilton Head, S.C. In June 2015, Akron gained a new seasonal route to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Then, in October 2015, Fort Lauderdale service at Akron launched, and Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Fla., came on in November 2015.
Just this May, Allegiant announced new service from Akron to Orlando/Sanford, Fla.
Akron also has routes provided by American Airlines, Delta, Southwest and United. It offers 15 nonstop destinations and also has one-stop destinations.
In June, the airport announced American Airlines would offer twice-daily nonstop service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport starting in October.
In 2015, the Akron airport had 1.53 million customers. The airport’s year-to-date figures show its customer count down by 9 percent.
“With that said, four of our five airlines have added new capacity and new routes through CAK in the past 12 months,” said Kristie VanAuken, Akron airport spokeswoman.
At the Youngstown airport, Allegiant offers four destinations. Last month, the airport saw the launch of the Great Lakes JetExpress daily service to Chicago O’Hare.
“We would like to see more service at this airport, of course,” said Dan Dickten, director of aviation at the Youngstown airport in Vienna. “We are very grateful to Allegiant for coming in here and putting [the airport] back on the map and prove the case for Great Lakes to come in.”
Youngstown Allegiant routes are: Tampa, Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Fort Myers/Punta Gorda.
Allegiant recently celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Youngstown airport. The Allegiant service started with flights to Orlando. In 2011, Myrtle Beach and St. Petersburg flights were added. In 2013, the local airport received its fourth Allegiant destination: Fort Myers, which airport officials have been told will be put on extended hiatus.
The service typically goes on an eight-week hiatus, but officials have been told the hiatus will be longer this time. Flights to Fort Myers will end Aug. 15, and a date for their return hasn’t been given.
“They have pledged to us that they will return [the Fort Myers service],” Dickten said.
An Allegiant spokesman said the airline is “currently working to determine its return.”
Dickten hopes to have the service back by February 2017.
“Our planning team is constantly evaluating each and every route we fly and making decisions based on a number of factors including routes’ passenger-load factors and revenue,” an Allegiant spokesman said in a statement.
The airport has received complaints because of the extended hiatus, and Dickten tells passengers to contact Allegiant to express their interest in having the service.
Allegiant flights from the Youngstown airport had positive passenger counts in June. On average, the St. Petersburg destination was 95.3 percent filled; the Punta Gorda destination was filled 95.6 percent; the Orlando/Sanford destination was 92 percent filled; and the Myrtle Beach destination was 82 percent filled.
At Akron, Allegiant’s load factors all have been above 80 percent.
Dickten noted the airport had 30 fewer flights this year. Also, through June, the Youngstown airport had 28,604 departing passengers and 28,760 arriving passengers for a total of 57,364 passengers. Last year, the total passenger count through June was 62,180.
“Those reductions affect us most in the parking concession, our main revenue source,” Dickten said.