Allegiant, which has been TCRAâ€™s main bright spot for ridership, announced it would discontinue its TCRA-to-Fort Lauderdale service this month, but its flights from Northeast Tennessee to Orlando continue operating.
Airport officials are hoping the Fort Lauderdale flights will be restored.
The Tampa-St. Petersburg service is expected to begin in late November with Monday and Friday flights and low fares typical of what has been charged for Orlando flights.
In a first for TCRA, the airport offered to take over ground baggage handling services for Allegiant when the airline came on board, and the move has bolstered passenger counts in a travel market hit hard by high fuel prices.
Airline ridership at TCRA this year is only down about 1 percent compared to last year, while parking revenues are up a percentage point, according to airport reports.
Allegiantâ€™s total system ridership has approached 350,000 passengers and is up more than 26 percent year to date from last year, according to company reports.
The Las Vegas-based companyâ€™s strategy has been to fly travelers from small towns to leisure destinations. Allegiant also bundles its air service with hotel rooms and rental cars.
Those company reports indicate Allegiantâ€™s planes are more than 90 percent full when they leave the runway.
On Tuesday, Allegiant was offering new flights from Lexington, Ky., to both Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg for an introductory one-way fare of $69. That price did not include a passenger facility charge, a Sept. 11 security fee or a checked baggage fee when purchased at the time of booking.
In other air service developments, TCRA has been working with Paragon, a small start-up airline, about offering business traveler service to Nashville and Washington, D.C.
For more about TCRA go to www.triflight.com.
For more about Allegiant go to www.allegiantair.com.