Spirit Airlines will begin nonstop flights to Las Vegas from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe starting April 16.
Tickets are available online for the five-hour, nonstop flights, which will depart daily at 7 a.m.
“We’re excited about Vegas. It’s going to be a great addition,” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, which operates the Unity airport.
The daily flights will begin just as seasonal flights to Fort Myers and Tampa, Fla., are ending for the season, airline officials said Monday in their announcement.
Those Florida destinations are taking off for the first time this season Dec. 18 and 19. Seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach, along with year-round flights from the airport to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, have been offered at Arnold Palmer Regional since 2011.
“We felt we could come in and offer lower fares to that market,” said Paul Berry, Spirit Airlines spokesman.
The cost of a one-way ticket April 16 costs about $103, plus seat fees of $10 to $25 as well as baggage fees of $35 for a carry-on and $30 for a checked bag. Customers are permitted one personal item, such as a purse, backpack or briefcase, for no charge.
“What has happened over the last couple years, people in Western Pennsylvania have seen that the Spirit business model works for them,” Berry said.
The airline offered direct flights from Arnold Palmer Regional to Dallas-Fort Worth for 10 months from June 2013 to April 2014 but discontinued them because of low passenger numbers.
“We’re always evaluating to make sure it’s a service customers want and are using,” Berry said.
Spirit Airlines has flown 650,054 passengers from Arnold Palmer Regional since flights began there in February 2011.
In September, 17,391 passengers passed through the airport, bringing the number to 195,815 so far in 2014.
Spirit uses Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft, which can hold 145 and 178 passengers, respectively.
Monzo said the airport has thrived with the help of its staff as the airline has reinvigorated traffic through the terminal.
“I’m proud of all the people who have been doing the work for this. (Spirit) wouldn’t have made the commitment if they weren’t confident we could handle the operations,” he said.
Anticipating a busy spring break season, the authority added more parking spaces in October and can accommodate about 440 cars. The free parking draws many passengers to trek to Latrobe from the greater Pittsburgh area.
The announcement of the flights occurs as the authority is working on its long-term master plan to outline the next 20 years, including additions to the terminal building and runway to handle larger planes.
Last week, a small parking lot was added near the terminal building for maintenance and staff vehicles. A restroom expansion was completed in December to handle demand before departures and after arrivals.
In May, the Transportation Safety Administration funded installation of a luggage screening machine to clear planes for takeoff faster, handling triple capacity previously at the airport.
Monzo said officials plan to review other services as needed if the Las Vegas flights are well-received.
“We think it’s the right thing at the right time,” he said.
Among the benefits of Spirit Airlines, Monzo agrees with the carrier’s marketing color scheme of black and yellow, painting a wall in his office last week with “LBE,” the airport’s call letters in the colors that happen to match Pittsburgh sports team colors.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or [email protected].