56Ernest Hemingway’s one-time home is about to get a lot closer for Pittsburghers.
Allegiant Air announced nonstop service between Pittsburgh International Airport and Key West, Fla., on Thursdays and Sundays beginning June 3 and continuing through the summer.
In addition to Papa’s home, Key West is known for its sunsets, the perfect-for-selfies southernmost point in the continental U.S., and its festive party scene for vacationers, among other attractions.
“From the historic sights at Dry Tortugas National Park to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Pittsburgh visitors have a lot to explore in Key West,” Drew Wells, Allegiant’s senior vice president of revenue, said in a statement. “We’re excited to connect these two great cities with affordable, nonstop service.”
The route grows Allegiant’s network to 16 cities from PIT, including seasonal routes, making it tops in terms of number of airports served.
“Allegiant continues to be a great partner in this region and has grown to be a leader in destinations served at Pittsburgh International Airport,” said Bryan Dietz, Vice President, Air Service Development at PIT. “This is the first time we’ve had scheduled nonstop service to Key West from Pittsburgh, and we look forward to Allegiant offering this exciting route to our region.”
Ultra-low cost carriers like Allegiant, Spirit and Frontier cater to leisure travelers and have seen less dramatic passenger drops during the pandemic than traditional, legacy carriers.
As travel demand has shifted, for example, in 2020, about one in five passengers at Pittsburgh International traveled on ultra-low cost carriers. That ratio was one in 10 in 2019. And Spirit Airlines continued to carry the third-most passengers at PIT for the second straight month in January, with 14.3 percent of total traffic, trailing only Southwest and American.
Allegiant was the sixth-busiest carrier in terms of total passengers at PIT, accounting for 4.3 percent of total traffic in January.
Nationally, airlines like Allegiant and Southwest also have experienced smaller decreases in passenger traffic, compared to other carriers. Based on data from January through September 2020, Allegiant saw only a 16 percent decrease in passengers, year-over-year. During that same period, Southwest was down 30 percent from the airline’s 2019 numbers.
Legacy airlines American and United, however, saw drops in passenger traffic upward of 65 percent in 2020.
“Passengers are choosing the more leisure-based destinations, which just naturally favors the route networks of low-cost and ultra-low cost carriers,” said Lacey Alicie, director of data analytics for Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting. “But, on top of that, it’s really provided an opportunity for them to grow into new and different places that they may not have grown into otherwise. This also has provided them an opportunity to grow once recovery begins.”
Writer Natalie Fiorilli contributed to this report.