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Current low Allegiant fares give GF advantage over Fargo

Allegiant Air has triggered something Grand Forks International Airport sees infrequently -- an airfare advantage over Fargo. The Web site airfarewatchdog.com lists roundtrip flights on Allegiant from Fargo to Las Vegas at $240 round-trip and $16...

Allegiant Air has triggered something Grand Forks International Airport sees infrequently -- an airfare advantage over Fargo.

The Web site airfarewatchdog.com lists roundtrip flights on Allegiant from Fargo to Las Vegas at $240 round-trip and $160 to Phoenix-Mesa compared with $160 and $100 respectively from Grand Forks.

"Some of those are introductory fares," said Patrick Dame, executive director for the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority. "Prices change frequently, but Allegiant has been very aggressive and put together fairly competitive prices."

Dame said Grand Forks is heavily marketing Allegiant's offers to Canadian travelers. He said the lower fares also are attracting passengers from south of Grand Forks.

"Everybody in the region looks at those fares," Dame said. "It gives them another option for days Allegiant doesn't fly to Vegas or Phoenix out of Fargo."

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According to Allegiant Air's Web site, www.allegiantair.com , flights between Grand Forks and Las Vegas fly Thursday and Sunday, and Friday and Monday between Grand Forks and Phoenix-Mesa.

The Las Vegas flights to and from Fargo's Hector Airport run Friday and Monday. Allegiant flights between Fargo and Phoenix-Mesa run as many as four days a week, and days vary.

Shawn Dobberstein, executive director of Fargo's Hector International Airport, said Allegiant offers the low fares to fill seats, and those offers change on the fly.

"Those fares are a snapshot in time," Dobberstein said. "What you see today may change tomorrow. Allegiant is very creative in what they do. They drive a lot of business, and we're happy to have them here, as I'm sure Grand Forks is."

Dame said Allegiant flights have been flying at full capacity out of Grand Forks and Fargo, and not just with vacationers.

"The UND flight school and Alerus Financial have connections in Arizona, so there's a good bit of commerce going back and forth," Dame said.

Breaking a string

October's airline boardings at Grand Forks Airport were down, the first monthly decline since February 2008. Dame said the numbers were "a fluke for us."

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"Minneapolis was down a runway, and that hurt us at the end of October and the beginning of November," Dame said.

"The numbers for Delta Airlines were down because of the runway and some weather-related issues. There was also one less weekend to factor in an Allegiant flight."

Both airlines reported November numbers to the airport Thursday. Dame said Grand Forks set a 10-year high for the month with 8,405 boardings, up from 7,864 in November 2008.

For the year, Dame said that boardings are up 11 percent and that Grand Forks should break its boardings record for a year, 100,569, set in 1994.

"On average, I'd say we'll be up 12 percent to 13 percent for the year and among the highest in the Great Lakes region," Dame said. "We're pretty excited about how things are going."

Back on schedule

Dame said flights were almost back on schedule after Wednesday's winter storm cleared out of the Twin Cities. Grand Forks airport had to cancel two flights, while others were delayed. Some flights out of Minneapolis were more than three hours late.

"The storm threw us off a little ways," Dame said. "We had some runway lighting issues, which are not uncommon during winter, which delayed a flight this morning."

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Dame also said after setbacks caused by rain in late October and early November, construction of the new airport terminal is also back on schedule for a mid-summer 2011 opening.

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or send e-mail to jjohnson2@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: AVIATIONLOCAL BUSINESS
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