The following is a transcription of reporter Jason Barry’s video story posted June 16, 2015, on www.kpho.com.
Everyone around here is supposed to be celebrating the news of new nonstop service to San Diego. Instead, most travelers are concerned about Allegiant Air possibly pulling out and moving their 34 non-stop flights and 200-plus employees (from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport) over to Sky Harbor Airport.
Top officials with Allegiant Air are going public with their disdain for the way they’re being treated by Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
Allegiant execs have been unhappy with Gateway’s recent courting of Maine-based Elite Airways, which has just been approved to start round-trip service from Gateway Sept. 1 with flights to San Diego.
Allegiant has accused the airport’s board of directors of not playing fairly by offering other airlines incentives and subsidies for flying into major airports.
We spoke by phone to Allegiant’s VP of marketing, who said they’re already making plans to move operations to Sky Harbor despite Gateway officials’ attempts to make them stay.
“Rather than embrace our business model they continue to criticize it, and it just makes up feel really unwelcome there,” Brian Davis, Allegiant’s vice president of marketing said by phone.
Is a complete pull-out from Mesa-Gateway airport still an option for you? (Mr. Barry asked Mr. Davis)
“Absolutely. I would say it is likely,” Mr. Davis said. “There has been a serious erosion of trust that would have to be rebuilt in order to kind of stop this.”
“They grew up at Gateway. They belong at Gateway. We value their partnership so we are listening to them,” Brian Sexton, Gateway’s public information officer, said. “Allegiant airlines is kind of like LeBron James of the NBA. They’re the best player in the airline industry and everyone wants to get Allegiant on their team. So when they talk about taking their talents to south Phoenix, we listen to that.”
My understanding is nothing is a done-deal yet and there is room for negotiations. But clearly if Allegiant pulls out of Gateway, it would be a devastating blow to this airport and the east Valley.
Through partnership Independent Newspapers is publishing information provided by CBS 5 News. Jason Barry’s video report can be viewed here.
Jason Barry writes for CBS 5 News