State and local officials joined executives from Allegiant Travel Company (ALGT) today as the company announced plans to establish a two-aircraft base at Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE) in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Allegiant's growth plans in the state include creating at least 66 new, high-wage jobs.
The Las Vegas-based company is investing $50 million to establish its new base of operations, which will house two Airbus aircraft. The company, which focuses on linking travelers in small-to-medium cities to world-class leisure destinations, plans to begin its base operations at Lehigh Valley International Airport on February 12, 2020. Lehigh Valleywill become the airline's 18th aircraft base.
The Lehigh Valley is a two-county region in eastern Pennsylvania consisting of 62 municipalities and three cities; Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. Located one hour north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes west of New York City, the Lehigh Valley is the 69th largest metropolitan region in the United States, with a $40.1 billion GDP that is larger than that of two entire states, Wyoming and Vermont. With more than 15,000 businesses contributing to an incredibly diverse industry base, Lehigh Valley is the fastest growing and third most populous region in the state of Pennsylvania, with a population of more than 670,000 residents. Site Selection named the Lehigh Valley one of the top five fastest-growing regions with under a million people in the United States in 2018, and the fastest-growing region of its size in the Northeast U.S. for a third consecutive year.
Speaking at today's announcement were Hilarie Grey, managing director of corporate communications for Allegiant Travel Company, Tom Stoudt, executive director at LVIA, Don Cunningham, president & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation and Pennsylvania Senate Majority Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh). Senator Browne secured a state grant to help offset capital costs of the expansion at LVIA and make the Lehigh Valley airport a more attractive option for Allegiant's growth.
"Lehigh Valley International Airport continues to be a vital asset for the Lehigh Valley and a significant driving force for our growing economy. Today's announcement ushers in a new era of leisure and commercial travel possibilities for the airport and our region," Senator Browne said. "I applaud Allegiant for recognizing the importance LVIA plays in air travel and for choosing to expand their presence at the airport. I commend their commitment to creating additional high-paying jobs, capital investment and potential expansion of routes along with their continued dedication to being involved partners with the community. I was pleased to work with Allegiant on this endeavor to enhance our airport and provide state financial support to ensure the Lehigh Valley was able to secure this important opportunity."
"Lehigh Valley is a perfect location for a permanent base, which will further establish Allegiant as a hometown airline in eastern Pennsylvania," said Keith Hansen, vice president of government affairs for Allegiant. "It has been a great area for Allegiant, where passenger demand has grown steadily over the years. As a base airport, having locally-based aircraft and crews will give us a host of options for both new service and expanded operational hours. This will mean more opportunities for affordable, convenient travel for local residents and visitors to the area."
"Excitement is sky high throughout the Lehigh Valley with the news of an Allegiant Crew Base landing at ABE," said Thomas R. Stoudt, Executive Director, Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority. "Since day one, Allegiant has demonstrated a strong commitment by providing air travelers affordable options and also have supported impactful regional initiatives. Now, they've created employment opportunities for this region which makes your neighborhood airport a more critical economic asset."
Allegiant began operating at ABE in 2005 and currently offers seven non-stop routes – to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando/Sanford, St. Pete-Clearwater and Punta Gorda, Florida; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee and Savannah, Georgia. Allegiant currently carries more than 280,000 annual passengers through Lehigh Valley.
Allegiant, which employs more than 4,300 team members across the U.S., plans to immediately begin hiring pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ground personnel to support the operations. The majority of the new positions are expected to offer salaries that are more than double the state's average wage. Interested applicants may apply online.
"The convenience and success of the Lehigh Valley Airport is a critical factor in both the economic and population growth of the Lehigh Valley," said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. "Allegiant Air selecting the Lehigh Valley to expand its operation and to add a large group of maintenance and flight crew employees is another indicator of the Lehigh Valley's economic growth and the increased activity at the Lehigh Valley Airport."