Central Coast residents heading for island paradise

2012-11-18T00:15:00Z 2012-11-17T23:18:33Z Allegiant’s first Hawaiian flight leaves SMXBy Brian Bullock / Staff Writer / Santa Maria Times

A jet full of passengers bid “Aloha” to Santa Maria on Saturday as Allegiant Air’s service to the Hawaiian islands took off.

The company’s first Boeing 757 full of Central Coast travelers left Santa Maria Public Airport and headed into the setting sun, headed for the island paradise in the first of weekly flights scheduled by the company.

Allegiant Air began service to Hawaii from its Las Vegas headquarters and Fresno in June. Service from Bellingham, Wash., began Nov. 15. Flights from Santa Maria and Eugene, Ore., began Saturday, and service from Stockton started today.

“Everything is looking good. We’ve seen great demand for Hawaii as we thought there would be,” said Allegiant Air spokesperson Jessica Wheeler. “It’s been really popular. In fact, Fresno was so popular after the first month we added a second flight each week.”

Wheeler said the company plans to begin flights to Hawaii from Phoenix, Spokane, Wash., and Boise, Idaho in February.

The first Allegiant Air Boeing 757 touched down in Santa Maria on Oct. 18 as the company tested its ground crew. The new loading ramp wasn’t quite up to the task and passengers had to exit the jet at the hatch near the tail.

A few more visits by the jet allowed the ground crew to work out all of its bugs and the ramp is working now, said airport General Manager Chris Hastert.

Hastert recently visited United Airlines headquarters in Chicago and met with company representatives in hopes of landing air service to Denver.

“It went well,” Hastert said. “met with United planners to check into Denver services. It was just an initial meeting. A few of the questions they asked led us to think they may be looking at companies who head to the east.”

Hastert said he would be checking with local companies and contractors who work at Vandenberg Air Force Base to see how much demand there is for steady eastward travel.

He will be traveling to St. George, Utah, to Skywest’s headquarters on a similar mission.

November 18, 2012  By Brian Bullock /Staff Writer/

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