The arrival of Breeze Airways at Northwest Arkansas National Airport prompted a quick response late Monday as one of its low-cost competitors added nonstop destinations to its schedule.
Seats on Allegiant Air to two new Florida destinations — St. Pete-Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale — were for sale around 9 pm. Monday. The airline announced the expansion today.
“We’re hearing nothing but excitement from travelers looking forward to some long-overdue vacations — and we’re thrilled to offer convenient, nonstop routes to two incredible Florida destinations,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant’s senior vice president of revenue said in a news release. “We know Northwest Arkansas residents will love the beautiful beaches, water sports and attractions that Fort Lauderdale and St. Pete have to offer.”
Allegiant’s decision came on the heels of Friday’s huge announcement by Breeze Airways that it’ll provide nonstop service from XNA to New Orleans, San Antonio and Tampa.
The widely anticipated launch of Breeze by JetBlue founder David Neeleman was one of the most anticipated air service expansions in years, and it was well received in Northwest Arkansas and nationwide. It made XNA part of its initial cities where its planes will fly.
For travelers who love the Sunshine State, the Breeze and Allegiant Air expansions are huge wins. XNA has nonstop service to three Florida airports now: Destin, Miami and Orlando/Sanford. Breeze’s Tampa service starts June 17, Allegiant’s St. Pete-Clearwater offering goes live on July 2, and Allegiant’s Fort Lauderdale option takes off Oct. 8.
There are meaningful differences between the airlines and how they serve XNA.
Breeze will fly nonstop to its three cities every Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, using 108- or 118-seat Embraers. Allegiant uses 180-seat Airbuses, serving most of its cities twice a week, including St. Pete-Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale.
The airfares to the five new destinations — Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, St. Pete-Clearwater, San Antonio and Tampa — are among the best available at XNA, and that’s likely to continue beyond an initial phase where airlines often sell their least expensive fares.
Allegiant Air announced today that it’ll sell some seats to St. Pete-Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale for $38 one way so long as the purchase is made by Wednesday this week. Breeze Airways has many seats still available for its $39, one-way introductory fare, and the airline hasn’t said when those fares will no longer be for sale.
By the time Allegiant starts its Fort Lauderdale trips in October, XNA will have 24 nonstop destinations. The 24 includes some destinations that haven’t restarted after they were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic such as United’s flights to San Francisco or Delta’s trips to Minneapolis/St. Paul.