The Promised Land of the East

By | August 8, 2006

Florida seems to be the land of low fares. When Jetblue came into existence, Senator Charles Schumer(Dem-NY), championed their cause…pointing out how it made no sense that it cost more to fly from one part of New York to another than it did to fly to Florida. It is hardly New York alone that has that problem.

However, it is six years later and that is still the case. Fares are so competitive to Florida that many carriers lose money on the deal, leaving other flights elsewhere in their system to prop it up. In fact, a fare from a regional airport via an airline’s hub to a popular destination like Florida costs less than the fare to that hub.

Florida can be an airline’s key to success. Filling a plane to the sunshine state is relatively easy in this day and age with proper planning. However, too many carriers have banked on the success of Florida and failed.

Flying to Florida nowadays is easier than ever. Today, we’d like to highlight two of the smaller carriers in the Florida arena: Spirit and Allegiant Air.

Spirit makes its hub at Ft. Lauderdale. Spirit started in 1980 as Charter One, based in Detroit, its smaller hub. In 1993, it began service to Florida and moved its headquarters there in 1999. Spirit’s move to basing its presence in Ft. Lauderdale was part of its plan to become a leading low-cost carrier in the Carribbean arena and in Florida in general.

Spirit announced today seasonal service from Atlanta to Tampa and Orlando, as well as Ft. Lauderdale to Las Vegas. Introductory fares from Atlanta start at $89 each way and the Las Vegas flight will start at $119.

Then there is Allegiant Air. Allegiant Air was founded in 1997, with a mission to “Bring the Smile Back to Flying.” We salute Allegiant for bringing air service to regional communities, including some that had lost all other commercial service. Allegiant provides service from Orlando-Sanford to Portsmouth NH, Worchester MA, Newburgh NY, Allentown PA, Youngtown OH, Roanoke VA, Toledo OH, Lansing MI, South Bend IN, Peoria and Rockford IL, Cedar Rapids MI, Des Moines and Sioux Falls IA, St. Louis-Midamerica and Springfield MO and McAllen TX. Much of this service is not daily, but it still proves the cash cow that is Florida and the demand even from the most underserved of cities.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Orlando-Sanford airport…far from the mainstream tourist destinations of the Orlando area, which are closer to McCoy International Airport, the airport most people think of when they think Orlando…it is a popular discounter destination. Not only it is a hub for Allegiant Air, but it receives Transatlantic Service as well.

FlyGlobespan – Scotland’s low fares airlines, and Icelandair operate scheduled transatlantic service and several charter carriers use the airport for service to and from the United Kingdom and Ireland. For more information visit the airport website.

In a final bit of Floridean news, low-cost carrier Airtran who began in Florida service, announced today that they would increase winter service to Florida from Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Akron/Canton, Flint, Bloomington, Moline/Quad Cities, and Milwaukee as well as inaugurate service from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, and Tampa; as well as Dayton and Milwaukee to Tampa.