Allegiant Air is a carrier that some will forget about in the United States. Catering almost solely to leisure travelers in the US, the airline is known for flying an all-Airbus fleet to various destinations a few times per week. Currently, the airline flies Airbus A319s and A320s. However, the carrier has not ruled out the Airbus A321 for its fleet.
Speaking at a CAPA Live event, Robert Neal, Treasurer and Vice President of Fleet and Corporate Finance at Allegiant, spoke about the potential of the Airbus A321s in Allegiant’s fleet.
The Airbus A321 for Allegiant
When asked about the Airbus A321 for Allegiant Air, Mr. Neal stated the following:
“I do see a place in our network for, just from my own opinion, I see a place in our network for a few of those airplanes at some point in time, when the right deal comes along. In my opinion, though, that’s probably a very small sub-fleet. I mean, we’ll operate 100, 105 airplanes this year, and I think that’s maybe five to seven airplanes if we ever wanted to venture in that direction.”
Allegiant Air’s fleet is currently composed entirely of Airbus A319s and Airbus A320s. According to data from Planespotters.net, Allegiant currently has 37 Airbus A319s and 69 Airbus A320s.
This makes the Airbus A321s a natural addition to the airline’s fleet. The A319s seat 156 passengers, while the A320s seat either 177 or 186 passengers. The Airbus A321 could seat 210 or more passengers.
What role would the A321s have?
The backbone of Allegiant’s fleet is the Airbus A320. Mr. Neal echoed the words of many Allegiant executives stating the operating economics of the Airbus A320 are far better than that of the A319. Still, the A319 does have a certain role in Allegiant’s route network.
These planes would likely be flying Allegiant’s busier routes. Or, perhaps they could take on the role of another aircraft that formerly was in Allegiant’s fleet.
The Boeing 757s
For several years, Allegiant flew Boeing 757-200 aircraft. The airline maxed out at six of the type and primarily used them for routes to Hawaii. The Boeing 757-200s could receive ETOPS certification, meaning the airline could launch flights to Hawaii.
In 2010, when Allegiant entered into a purchase agreement for six Boeing 757s, the airline only operated MD-80 aircraft, which could not make the hop to Hawaii.
By 2017, Allegiant exited the Hawaiian market and waved goodbye to its Boeing 757 aircraft, citing low demand; the airline pulled out entirely and has not returned to the islands since.
Why the Airbus A321 could work for Hawaii
Flights to Hawaii from the Western United States would be a big deal for Allegiant, as they would mark some of the longer routes in the carrier’s network. For this, the carrier needs a plane that checks all the right boxes.
Allegiant needs an aircraft that can fly more people and do it without increasing its costs by much. The Airbus A321 has significant commonality with the Airbus A319s and A320s, meaning the incremental costs of adding the Airbus A321 are much lower than adding a Boeing 757.
The second thing to recognize is that the market right now has many aircraft for cheap coming around. Assuming an airline is willing to retire older owned Airbus A321s or cancel their leases, Allegiant could scoop up some planes for cheap, but the airline does not want to add them now. Nevertheless, in the future, if there is a deal, the A321s could make an excellent addition.
Allegiant Air does not sell connections, so it relies entirely on origin and destination, point-to-point demand. Allegiant could do well adding nonstop service to Hawaii.
Given that Allegiant can keep its costs for flights to Hawaii low enough to get enough people to travel, there are plenty of points where the carrier can fly to Hawaii from. This includes its bases like Las Vegas and Phoenix. It could also jump into some other markets like Oakland. With only a few planes, Allegiant could easily serve these markets.
The A321s would be a risk, and it all depends on whether Allegiant believes it can successfully expand into Hawaii after trying for a few years using a Boeing 757. However, if the airline cannot make it work, then the A321s better be cheap enough for the airline to fly them elsewhere. Allegiant traditionally purchases used aircraft, so do not expect the carrier to place an order with Airbus.
Hawaii may seem like a low-cost carrier dream destination filled with leisure travelers looking for an island getaway. Still, there are plenty of structural reasons, such as the intense competition for routes to Hawaii, the necessity for ETOPS-certified planes, and the distance from the mainland, that make it difficult for low-cost carriers to fly to the island successfully.
Do you think Allegiant Air should take on Airbus A321s? Let us know in the comments!