Allegiant Air will end flights early next year from Santa Rosa to the Phoenix area, less than eight months after starting the service, the low-cost airline confirmed Thursday.
“There was simply not enough demand to support continuing the route,” spokeswoman Hilarie Grey wrote Thursday in an email.
Another possible factor is that competitor American Airlines announced in October that it will offer daily nonstop service from Santa Rosa to Phoenix-Sky Harbor International Airport. That service is slated to begin Feb. 16.
The last Allegiant flight from Santa Rosa to Phoenix-Mesa will be Jan. 2.
Allegiant “is continuing per the current schedule” its twice weekly service between Santa Rosa and Las Vegas, Grey wrote.
In October, the Allegiant flights from Santa Rosa on the Phoenix-Mesa and Las Vegas routes combined on average were 65 percent full, compared to 82 percent for Alaska’s flights, according to monthly data released Wednesday by the county airport.
In May, Allegiant became the second commercial airline to operate in Sonoma County. Alaska Airlines started providing service from Santa Rosa in 2007 and now offers daily nonstop flights to San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle.
In the last two months, both the Washington Post and the Tampa Bay Times separately ran stories using federal aviation records reporting that Allegiant has encountered a large number of mechanical problems resulting in emergency descents, unscheduled landings and aborted takeoffs.
Allegiant’s chairman and chief executive, Maurice J. Gallagher Jr, called “flawed” the Post’s Sept. 1 story examining flights for the 15 months ending in March of this year. But in a Nov. 2 Times story, Gallagher acknowledged the number of mechanical breakdowns in 2015 “wasn’t acceptable” and he vowed that “we’re going to make sure” to offer customers service that is safe, reliable and on time.
After publication of the Post story, a number of Press Democrat readers reported problems they had encountered with Allegiant, including canceled flights, aircraft mechanical problems and poor customer service.
An airport spokeswoman said Wednesday that county officials now will seek new ways to promote Allegiant’s Las Vegas service because many residents have long called for such flights, an Allegiant official said.
“We’ve been hearing that for many years,” said Gina Stocker, the airport’s marketing specialist.
You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @rdigit