MASCOUTAH, IL (KTVI) - MidAmerica St. Louis Airport celebrated a milestone Thursday night as Allegiant Airlines began its non-stop service to Las Vegas with a flight that took off from Mascoutah, Illinois shortly after 9 p.m.
“Our niche and our market is to bring people to vacations, and that’s what our passenger service is all about right now,” said Airport Director Tim Cantwell.
MidAmerica sat empty for the first two years of existence and has struggled to attract and maintain service. Cantwell believes there’s a bright future.
“People are understanding the convenience. People are understanding that you can’t walk more than 300 feet on this airport,” said Cantwell.
Allegiant currently flies from MidAmerica twice a week to Orlando and St. Pete-Clearwater. The addition of non-stop flights to Las Vegas will also be twice a week. The current flight schedule includes Thursday and Sunday. Cantwell says during peak vacation times Allegiant has added flights.
Many of the passengers we talked with said they live in southern Illinois and prefer to fly out MidAmerica because of the convenience.
One family said they bought last minute tickets due to a family emergency. They said flying out of MidAmerica was much cheaper.
“We got this trip for 600 and some dollars, and if we flew out of St. Louis it would have been 1500 dollars,” said Nancy Wagner. “Our other option was to drive six hours to Midway and fly out of Chicago.”
Nationwide travel is expected to jump three percent this holiday season. That would be the biggest increase in several years. Experts say one reason is an improving economy. Cantwell says that’s good news for any airport, but says MidAmerica’s focus remains on the vacation traveler.
“You can easily get to your vacation spot from here,” he said.