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Asheville Regional Airport Jumps 7 Percent in Passenger Traffic in 2013

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority reported a seven percent increase in passenger traffic for the 2013 calendar year, which was the third highest number of annual passengers reported in the past decade. While traffic each year varied, overall Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) has seen a steady increase in traffic over time.

In 2013, seven consecutive months of increased traffic were reported from June through December, with December 2013 showing a 28% increase in traffic over December 2012. The upswing in traffic in 2013 can be credited to several factors like new routes, added available seats, and this region’s strong utilization of services at AVL.

Two new non-stop flights to Florida were added by ultra low-cost carrier Allegiant Travel Company, one of Asheville Regional Airport’s (AVL) newest partners. A flight to St. Petersburg, Fla. was added in June and a flight to Ft. Myers, Fla. was added in October, coinciding with the increase in traffic.

Other partner airlines were able to increase the number of seats available on existing flights by more than 15% during some months in summer and fall. Residents in the area choosing to fly local are another contributing factor, keeping planes full.

“Any year where the traffic percentages have increased is positive but to show a trend that we are growing over time is meaningful,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., executive director of Asheville Regional Airport. “Airlines have realized that we have a strong demand for air service in this market and we are seeing full flights.”

Looking forward, Bleiweis says, “It is the people of western North Carolina who are driving this positive trend and we look forward to their support of the local airport in 2014.”

Asheville Regional Airport Traffic Increasing

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – For the fifth month in a row, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority has reported an increase in passenger traffic. The number of travelers departing from Asheville increased 14% for the month of August 2013 compared with August 2012.  September saw an increase of 12% compared to the same month last year, which was the fourth consecutive month of double-digit increases.

The increases can be attributed to several factors.  First, the airlines serving Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) have added seats in the market compared to the same period last year. New routes have been implemented, and residents in the area continue to show strong utilization of their local airport.

The increase in seats is projected to continue. The summer months saw an average seat increase of 16% compared to the same period last year, and the upcoming fall schedules are showing an average 8% seat increase.

Additionally, a new non-stop route to St. Petersburg, Fla. operated by ultra low-cost carrier Allegiant Travel Company started in June, which added to the flight options available for travelers.  Soon thereafter, a non-stop to Ft. Myers, Fla. was announced, and will begin operating on October 30.

It is also very positive that the flights from the airport are full.  “The average flight from AVL is about 80% full, and we have some that are 85-95% full,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., executive director of Asheville Regional Airport.  The airlines have ‘right-sized’ their offerings to fit the demands of air travelers in this market and the flight options are working for many air travelers in the region.

“We want our airline partners to be successful, because that means they will continue to serve western North Carolina,” said Bleiweis.  “The ‘fly local’ message is important, and we will continue to encourage travelers in our region to check AVL first, and fly local whenever they can.”

Another positive statistic:  the Airport Connectivity Quality Index, released in June 2013 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), showed Asheville Regional Airport as the best connected non-hub airport in the United States.  “AVL enjoys excellent air service for a region our size,” said Bleiweis.  “And I commend our region for recognizing the symbiotic relationship between flying local and retaining and attracting the excellent air service that is available to us all.”

Registration Open For Asheville Regional Airport’s Third Annual Runway 5K

Friday, October 25th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Runners, take your mark for Asheville Regional Airport’s (AVL) third annual Runway 5K on Saturday, September 21. Join the 1,000 participants who are expected to run, walk or jog the AVL runway and taxiway, which makes up the entire course.

Racers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the airport.  In addition, if family members and friends attend with 5K participants, they will be able to view local aircraft on display during the race and even watch the race near the runway.  All proceeds of the Runway 5K will support community-based educational aviation charities, the Western North Carolina Air Museum, the WNC Pilots Association Scholarship Fund and also help develop a traveling aviation-themed exhibit for children.

“We are excited to bring together the community for another race on the runway, which is a good time for the whole family,” said Tina Kinsey, Director of Marketing and Public Relations. “This 5K is perfect for people of all ages – we’ve seen racers from ages four to 84, all enjoying this unique event.”

Early registration for the race is $25 until August 9. Registration will be $30 from August 10 to September 19 and day before registration or walk up registration will be $40. Participants are guaranteed a T-shirt with registration through August 16 and a limited number of shirts will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis for later registrants.

Race winners in different categories will be awarded prizes. The grand prize is a chance to win free airfare, awarded to one randomly drawn adult racer at the end of the event.

“AVL is our region’s airport, and this is one way we can celebrate aviation with those we serve,” said Kinsey. “It’s one of our favorite days of the year at the airport.”

To learn more and to register for the race, visit flyavl.com.

New Non-Stop Service to Orlando on Allegiant

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Allegiant (NASDAQ: ALGT) today announces new, nonstop jet service between Asheville, N.C., and Orlando, Fla., via Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), will begin Nov. 18. The company, known for its exceptional travel deals, will introduce the new service to Western North Carolina area residents with fares as low as $49.98* one way.

“We’re pleased to bring an affordable and convenient travel option to Asheville,” Andrew C. Levy, Allegiant Travel Company President, said. “We are confident Western North Carolina will appreciate flying nonstop to Orlando and take advantage of the great deals we offer on hotels, car rentals and theme park tickets.”

“Asheville Regional Airport is proud to partner with Allegiant Travel Company, and looks forward to welcoming them to Western North Carolina,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., airport director. “Allegiant is a quality airline with great fares, and we know that our air travelers will welcome them with open arms. We have received many requests in recent years to advocate for Allegiant to come to our airport, and I am pleased to say that the time has come. It will be a great sight when the first Allegiant jet lands at AVL – a plane that will seat 150 people – and an even greater sight of our friends and neighbors enjoying the non-stop, low-fare flights to Orlando Sanford International Airport.”

The new flights will operate two times weekly between Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) and Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) with service Monday and Friday. Flights will depart Asheville at 8:20 p.m. arriving in Orlando-Sanford at 9:50 p.m. Flights leaving Orlando-Sanford will depart at 6:10 p.m. arriving in Asheville at 7:40 p.m. (all flight times are local). The carrier will utilize a full-size, 150-seat MD-80 jet aircraft on the route.

With plenty of shopping, dining, outdoor activities and entertainment, Orlando offers vacationers the perfect getaway. Located in the heart of Central Florida, Orlando is home to the world’s most exciting theme parks including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. Orlando’s famous International Drive is more than 10 miles long and features more than 100 hotels, 450 stores, several attractions and two major outlet malls. Orlando is also home to more than 175 golf courses, many of which were designed by pro golfers such as Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Allegiant’s $49.98* one-way introductory fare is limited, must be purchased by Oct. 3, 2011, and is valid for travel between Nov. 29, 2011, and Feb. 14, 2012. Introductory fares are not available on all flights.

Reservations can be made on the airline’s website at www.allegiant.com or by calling the company’s travel experts at 702-505-8888. Allegiant guarantees the lowest price on air and hotel vacation packages through the company’s Low-Price Pledge. If the customer finds an air and hotel package for less, Allegiant will credit the difference for use on a future booking. Allegiant is also rewarding customers who book an air and hotel package through the company with an instant $20 savings on roundtrip airfare, making it even more affordable to book an air and hotel package.

About the $49.98* one-way fare:
Seats are limited. Fares are one-way and not available on all flights. Must be purchased by Oct. 3, 2011, for travel by Feb. 14, 2012. Offer not available Dec. 24, 2011–Jan. 4, 2012. Prices do not include PFC, segment tax or Sept. 11th security fee of up to $10.70 per segment. A segment is one take-off and one landing. A fee of $14.99 per segment, will apply when purchased through Allegiant call centers. For ticket counter hours of operation, please visit www.allegiant.com. When purchased at the time of booking, a checked bag fee of up to $14.99 per bag will apply per person, per segment. If purchased at flight check-in, a fee of $35 per checked bag, per person, per segment will apply for the first two bags checked. Additional higher fees will apply for three or more checked bags. Fare rules, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice. Restrictions apply. $20 savings based on a two-night, air+hotel purchase; valid at select Allegiant hotels.

Allegiant, travel is our deal.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company (NASDAQ: ALGT) is focused on linking travelers in small cities to world-class leisure destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix-Mesa, Orlando, Fla., and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla. Through its subsidiary, Allegiant Air, the company operates a low-cost, high-efficiency, all-jet passenger airline offering air travel both on a stand-alone basis and bundled with hotel rooms, rental cars and other travel-related services. In 2010, Allegiant was ranked number one for low-cost carriers in Aviation Week’s Top Performing Airline study and ranked 25 on FORTUNE magazine’s Fastest-Growing Companies list. Receive breaking news from Allegiant by visiting Allegiant’s Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/Allegiant or follow Allegiant on Twitter at twitter.com/allegianttravel.

Vision Airlines Discontinues Service at AVL

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Vision Airlines announced last week that service to nine of its 15 destination cities – including Asheville – will be discontinued as of August 19, a move that was not a surprise to Asheville Regional Airport (AVL).

“Vision Airlines entered the commercial air service market in a big way last spring,” said Lew Bleiweis, airport director. “Their business model included tapping into vacation destination markets and drawing travelers between those markets. The summer season in the panhandle of Florida – where Vision is based – is nearing its end, so their exit from many markets is somewhat expected.”

Vision began a two-day-a-week service from Asheville to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida in March, and served approximately 600 passengers each month, or 1.5% of total passengers at AVL . The loss of Vision from AVL will have a minimal impact on the organization’s budget.

Vision has indicated that the reduction of service to and from Northwest Florida Regional is temporary. The airline will resume a fuller schedule of flights starting April 1 of next year, and some of the discontinued destinations will be brought back while new destinations likely will be added. Vision has not indicated which cities will be served again in the spring.

“As we leave the busy summer travel season, it is very common for airports to see changes in air service,” said Bleiweis. “Asheville will continue to see air service come and go – that’s the nature of the business. What we, will continue to do is communicate with airlines, advocate for needed routes, and keep Western North Carolina top-of-mind with airline planners. We have a proven market, and an exceptional airport, and I look forward to what’s to come.”

Registration Now Open for the First-Ever Runway 5K at Asheville Regional Airport

Friday, August 12th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – A new event for 5K enthusiasts – the Asheville Regional Airport Runway 5K and Healthy Fun Day presented by Mission Health – is now open for registration. Visit flyavl.com for information.

The 5K will be held on a portion of the runway and airport campus on Saturday, October 1 at 9am, providing participants a chance to walk or run in celebration of the airport’s 50th anniversary. Proceeds will benefit Ladies Night Out, a program that provides mammograms and screenings to women who cannot afford them.

“The airport and the runway are a big part of the history of our area – not only from a growth perspective, but also from a very personal perspective to so many,” said Tina Kinsey, director of marketing at the airport and event coordinator. “I have spoken with numerous residents of our area about the days when Sunday lunch was enjoyed at the airport. Requests are frequently made for us to build a runway observation deck. And the weekly calls I receive with questions about the military planes that frequent our airspace confirm to me that there is an on-going fascination with aviation. So in honor of our 50th anniversary, we’re providing a way for our community to get up close and personal with the runway and aircraft.”

“A 5K is a popular way for people of all ages to participate in health and wellness,” said Becky Brown, marketing manager at Mission Health. “This is a great way to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle, while helping a key regional organization celebrate its golden anniversary.”

The free “Healthy Fun Day” festival will be from 10am to 1pm. It will also be staged adjacent to the runway, and will include aircraft on display, health and wellness education and activities, live music, low-cost airplane rides (provided by the WNC Pilot’s Association), and chances for attendees to win free airfare. The event is being made possible by the Airport and in partnership with the following key sponsors: Mission Health (presenting sponsor); Landmark Aviation; the WNC Ag Center; the WNC Pilot’s Association; Clear Channel Radio (Star 104.3 and 570AM); Asheville Radio Group (Mix 96.5); and Windstream.

Registration information for the Runway 5K can be found at flyavl.com.

AirTran to Depart from Asheville Airport

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Asheville Regional Airport Authority (ARAA) announced this week that AirTran Airways, which was recently acquired by Southwest Airlines, will be discontinuing service from Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) effective January 6, 2012.

AirTran Airways has served AVL since June 2009 with non-stop flights to Orlando, FL, and with service to Tampa, FL, since February 2010. ARAA data indicates that AirTran accounted for approximately 8% of the airport’s passenger traffic in 2010.

“Thanks to the support of this community, the AirTran routes have been successful, and we had high hopes that Southwest Airlines would choose to continue serving Western North Carolina residents,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., airport director. “While we are disappointed with the decision, we also have confidence in the other six airlines serving our airport and in the loyalty of our passengers.”

AVL is served by low-cost carrier Vision Airlines, which also offers non-stop flights to Florida, as well as by American Airlines/American Eagle (seasonal), Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

“Our goal is to continue increasing the ease of travel from AVL, especially through the addition of new non-stop destinations and competitively-priced fares,” said Bleiweis. “We meet regularly with airlines to advocate for these things, and are optimistic about the future of air travel for our region.”