A showgirl helped Allegiant announce the new flight. It is unknown if her name is Lola. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

Vegas, baby!

Discount airline Allegiant in November will begin offering nonstop flights from Louisville International Airport to Las Vegas.

Allegiant made the announcement roughly eight months after revealing plans to start flying out of the Louisville International Airport for the first time.

“The announcement made today was the product of dozens of meetings over the past four years with Allegiant and the airport,” said Lesa Seibert, a member of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority‘s board. “We knew Louisville was an ideal candidate for Allegiant’s low fares and nonstop flights, but the addition of eight destinations in just eight months, we are thrilled that Allegiant seems to agree.”

Most of the flights out of Louisville to Las Vegas are one-stop flights costing about $165 one-way. Some residents in the Greater Louisville area opt drive to Cincinnati to snag a nonstop flight from there for $124 one-way, which is cheaper than Southwest’s nonstop flights out of Louisville; those cost about $350 one-way.

Starting Nov. 16 though, they will have the option to book a nonstop flight locally for as little as $54 one-way.

Jessica Wheeler, a spokeswoman for Allegiant, said she did not know how many people are expected to use the new flight but added that the planes will seat 166 passengers and the company expects them to be relatively full.

Allegiant expects all eight of its routes out of Louisville to collectively transport 200,000 passengers a year.

“We have grown so tremendously,” Wheeler said. “The community has embraced our service wonderfully. That’s why we know this service is going to be extremely successful.”

In May, the airline started year-round, nonstop service from Louisville to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The following week, Allegiant began year-round, nonstop service to Punta Gorda AirportOrlando-Sanford International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, as well as seasonal service to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.

In October, Allegiant also will start a nonstop service to Phoenix.

Local officials have emphasized the importance to economic development of adding more nonstop flights, but some of their efforts are being eclipsed by regional competitors. Nashville recently announced nonstop flights to London, and Wow Air said this week it will begin offering nonstop flights from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to Iceland, with connections to the European mainland.

Seibert said that despite those announcements, Louisville would be able to attract more air service.

“There are enough people in the market to support” more nonstop flights, she said.

“Plus, there’s lots of different airlines we can bring in too, so there is huge of opportunity across the board,” she said. “While we aren’t looking at international yet, once we get the national flights that we are looking for — especially to the coast, to Boston and L.A. and maybe a couple of others — then that would certainly be next on our radar.”

Seibert also is part of the newly formed Louisville Regional Airlift Development (LRAD) coalition that is working on an incentive package aimed at enticing airlines to offer a nonstop flight to Los Angeles and/or Boston. The incentive would be a minimum revenue guarantee that ensures airlines will earn a basement-level amount of revenue; if that minimum revenue isn’t met, money collected in a fund would help make up the difference.

“We are working on those aggressively in partnership with the Louisville Regional Airlift Development group, of which I am a part,” she said. “It is looking really good. We are working on putting together what our minimum revenue guarantee is that some of those longer flights require, and that’s going really well, so we should be able to move forward talking to airlines probably sometime this late fall, early winter.”

Airlines already have been contacted and are showing interest, Seibert said, but a formal incentive package needs to be created before serious discussions can begin.

Earlier this year, Insider Louisville looked at other cities where minimum revenue guarantee incentives have and have not worked.