Lois and Carson Aurand are taking Allegiant Air's inaugural flight to Orlando. They're going to visit their daughter.
"It's fantastic--no hassle of driving to O’Hare, traffic, delays. This is very, very convenient," says Carson Aurand.
Allegiant will be operating four flights a week between here and the Sunshine State. The airline says demand for its Las Vegas service--which began in November--has been strong.
"It exceeded our expectations. The response and support from the community--we have some of the highest load factors--which is our barometer of how we're doing in the system, so we're very happy," says Director of Corporate Communications for Allegiant Air Tyri Squyres.
Executive Director Bob O’Brien says Allegiant has taken over where the now bankrupt Transmeridian Airlines left-off, but O’Brien says Allegiant is offering a higher quality of service.
"The demand on RFD is not only in satisfying the local community, but in satisfying the regional community. That's what it's really all about--that's where our success lies going forward," says O'Brien.
"RFD has been through some rough patches lately. But Bob O'Brien says, they're just growing pains. The airport boss says Allegiant has staying power, and more exciting things are on the horizon."
United Airlines will begin service in March. O’Brien says 1000 tickets have already been sold.
"It's a difficult airport industry. And when you think about the fact that we live in the shadow of the world's busiest airport...so carving a niche for ourselves is very challenging. It's one that I believe in completely, or I never would have come to RFD," says O'Brien.
Since passenger service began 27 months ago, O’Brien says 100 jobs have been created and 130,000 people have used the airport. O’Brien says we will have the occasional step backwards, but the question is how will we recover and in the case of Allegiant, he says, we're recovering well.
O’Brien estimates that more that 25,000 people will fly to Orlando with Allegiant in 2006. In 2002, RFD was the 630th largest passenger service airport in the country. Today, we've moved up to 230 and next year, we should be in the top 200.