Allegiant Air announced it will begin flying between the Sarasota-Bradenton area and Austin, Texas, starting in April.
Flights between Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are scheduled to begin April 14, according to a press release issued Tuesday from Las Vegas-based Allegiant.
As a special introductory offer, Allegiant will offer one-way fares as low as $49.
Austin, the capital of Texas, is known for its lively music scene, Texas barbecue and culture. Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, said she thinks Sarasota locals will be eager to visit – and Austinites will be anxious to come here as well.
“I think it’s a place where people are going to want to get away to Siesta Key and Lido (Key), and it’s such a booming area of Texas,” she said. The Austin area has been an emerging market for Sarasota County for a few years, Haley said.
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It wasn’t long ago that airline executives would have turned up their noses at the idea of flying between Sarasota-Bradenton and Texas. But in 2018, after a great deal of lobbying and convincing, American Airlines launched seasonal service between Sarasota-Bradenton and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of the Sarasota-Bradenton airport, said the success of the American flight set off a flurry of new service to the Lone Star State and beyond.
“We keep getting more nonstop connections to the west, and this is another one that we’re real pleased with,” he said.
Since American Airlines took the plunge in 2018, several airlines at Sarasota-Bradenton have launched westbound service. Flights to Houston are available via Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, Southwest flies directly to Austin and it also flies to Dallas, although it’s to Dallas Love Field Airport and not Dallas-Fort Worth. And United also offers seasonal service to Denver, Colorado.
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New service at the airport tends to have a direct correlation to an uptick in visitation
New service at the airport tends to have a direct correlation to an uptick in visitation, Haley said. Denver, for example, is now showing up in Sarasota’s top 25 feeder markets.
“You can start to see the impact of these flights, with more visitation coming from out west,” Haley said. “The numbers aren’t huge, but the percentage is high.”
The Sarasota-Bradenton airport has been growing steadily. In the past it struggled in the shadow of bigger players including Tampa International Airport. But business has taken off in recent years, with the Dallas flight and the addition of Allegiant in 2018.
During the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sarasota-Bradenton area experienced enormous pent-up leisure travel demand. This led to unprecedented traffic at the airport, which saw more than 3 million passengers in 2021, 57% higher than its previous busiest year on record.
As a response to the demand, the airport is planning a huge expansion. This year, plans include breaking ground on a new ground transportation facility, improving and expanding concessions and a new ground level terminal with at least five new gates.
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