Allegiant expanding at HIA; Air Canada drops service

One airline is expanding its service from Harrisburg International Airport, while another carrier has left.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air said today it will add a new nonstop service in April to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, which is south of Tampa on the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, Air Canada stopped flying from HIA to Toronto on Oct. 31 as part of a reorganization.

The new year-round Allegiant flights will operate twice a week, beginning April 3, pushing Allegiant’s service from HIA up to five cities. The service will start with fares as low as $65.

Allegiant recently said it will begin daily nonstop service from Harrisburg to Orlando Sanford in February and add more weekly flights to Punta Gorda/Ft. Myers and St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport. The low-cost carrier also flies to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

“We’re thrilled to grow again in Harrisburg,” said Drew Wells, Allegiant’s vice president of planning and revenue.

Allegiant Air carried 55,581 passengers to and from HIA over the summer, a 27 percent uptick from last summer. 

On the flip side, the loss of Air Canada means HIA is down to five airlines.

Officials for the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, which operates HIA, said Air Canada’s departure was part of a bigger move by the airline, which is replacing its 18-seat Beech 1900D planes with larger 50-seat planes. In addition to HIA, the airline also pulled out of Rochester and Syracuse, New York.

The 18-seat planes were used for the Harrisburg-to-Toronto service, which had grown to four days per week. But SARAA spokesman Scott Miller said the smaller planes are getting more expensive to maintain and Air Canada didn’t feel like Harrisburg, Rochester and Syracuse were markets that could support the larger planes.

“We were surprised by it and disappointed,” he said, adding that HIA hopes to bring Air Canada back in the future. “We’ll try to make a case to get them to come back.”

Air Canada has been flying out of HIA for more than 20 years. Canada is one of Pennsylvania’s main trading partners, and many Central Pennsylvania businesses have offices or operations there. The Hershey Co.‘s Canadian subsidiary, Hershey Canada Inc., for example, is based in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb.

While many of the Air Canada passengers from HIA stayed in Toronto, others flew elsewhere, with London and Shanghai among the top destinations.

Airport users looking to get to Canada from Harrisburg will now have to rely on connecting flights from American Airlines, United Airlines or Delta Air Lines. Another option would be to drive to Philadelphia International Airport to fly non-stop on Air Canada. 

Jason Scott
Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com.

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