Pinellas News

Allegiant to add 3 routes to St. Pete-Clearwater

— Allegiant Airlines is adding three new nonstop routes from cities in Illinois and North Carolina to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

The low-cost carrier announced Tuesday the flights will start in November from Belleville and Bloomington, Illinois, and Concord, North Carolina.

The Las Vegas-based airline also announced new Florida routes from Orlando and Punta Gorda, but the Clearwater airport will see the biggest expansion in service.

“The Tampa Bay area is an incredibly popular destination for vacation travelers in the United States,” Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said.

In May, Allegiant kicked off a seasonal nonstop flight to Clearwater from Cincinnati, and the company added six new routes in 2013, contributing to the airport topping 1 million passengers for the year.

Allegiant represents more than 90 percent of the airport’s total passengers, serving 35 destinations across the nation — primarily in small and mid-sized cities, including the routes announced Tuesday.

The new cities already had popular Allegiant flights to other Florida destinations, and company executives felt confident the Tampa Bay area would get strong traffic, Wheeler said.

Since bringing in 12 routes in 2006, the airline’s presence at St. Pete-Clearwater International has exploded, airport public relations director Michele Routh said.

“Every single year we’ve seen growth from them,” she said. So far this year, the airport has served 752,965 passengers, continuing to break monthly records. Earlier this summer, PeoplExpress announced flights from coastal Virginia, and Sun Country and Sunwing also fly out of Clearwater.

Allegiant’s Concord service starts Nov. 13, Belleville starts Nov. 19 and Bloomington begins Nov. 21.