Allegiant Air says Aloha to Santa Maria

Allegiant Air service to Hawaii is saying aloha to the Santa Maria Public Airport.

The air carrier made it official Tuesday morning – nonstop jet service between Santa Maria and Honolulu International Airport will begin Nov. 17.

Airport General Manager Chris Hastert, Santa Maria Mayor Larry Lavagnino, members of the Santa Maria City Council, Chamber of Commerce and the airport’s Board of Directors all celebrated the news in the passenger terminal.

Hastert thanked everyone who played a role in securing the new service for the airport including:

  • The Transportation Safety Administration for its continual upgrade of security and passenger screening procedures that Hastert said will allow the airport to handle the 200-plus passengers flying Allegiant’s 757s to the islands;
  • Tartaglia Engineering and Granite Construction for teaming up to complete the airport’s 1,700-foot runway extension, which makes it 8,004 feet in length; “We could not have done this flight to Hawaii without extending the runway,” Hastert said.
  • The Chamber of Commerce assisted airport staff in landing Allegiant’s Hawaiian connection with an extensive presentation effort;
  • Santa Maria city government and administration, which provides police and fire protection along with support from the City Council.

“We want to thank Allegiant for selecting Santa Maria as one of their six locations to fly to Hawaii. There has been a lot of work getting us to this point,” Hastert said, adding the Board of Directors led the effort. “They have done a great job the last few years really trying to improve the airport getting us ready for the future.”

Last month, the company announced its Hawaiian service would begin in June from Fresno and Las Vegas. On Tuesday, the company added Santa Maria, Stockton, Eugene, Ore. and Bellingham, Wash. to that list.

Hastert listed the airport’s many amenities that have been improved in recent years as boosting its bid for additional flights.

The new baggage claim and passenger terminal were built in 2008. The runway extension project began in 2004 and was just completed this month. And the parking lot rehabilitation and improvement have all added to the appeal of the facility, he said.

“They basically showed (Allegiant) there is a market here,” City Manager Rick Haydon said of the airport district and Chamber effort. “If you build it they will come. You make the flights available, people will come.”

To kick off the service, Allegiant is offering introductory one-way fares to Hawaii for as low as $199, including taxes and fees. Flights and vacation packages, which are Allegiant’s specialties, are available for booking through Jan. 15.

The airport also offered an attractive incentive package to the carrier. It will waive landing fees and fuel flowage fees for the first year of its Hawaiian service. The airport will also participate in Allegiant’s marketing efforts.

“When you look at the airport business park that is going to come on line, and Union Valley Parkway, which is part of the bigger plan for the business park, a lot of Santa Maria’s future is tied to the airport,” Economic Development Director Dave Cross said. “They’re really stepping up to the plate. This is good for the airport, good for the city and good for the entire region.”

One of the final steps for the airport is to provide a passenger loading ramp tall enough to reach the doors of the Boeing 757s that will land for the weekly service. The board of directors will take that action on Thursday.

“We’re really excited. This is a really big thing for Santa Maria,” said board President Carl Engel Jr.

By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer/bbullock@santamariatimes.com  Santa Maria Times | Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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