Struggling southern Illinois airport gambles on Vegas route

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MASCOUTAH, Ill._ New service to Las Vegas is the latest gamble at a little-used southern Illinois airport once expected to lure millions of travelers annually.

Mid America Airport has seen a succession of carriers come and go _ and go belly up_ since its 1997 opening. The Mascoutah airport now has only low-cost Allegiant Air flying to two Florida cities twice each week.

Twice-weekly Allegiant service to Las Vegas arrives in November. The airliner flew between Vegas and Mid America for three years before dropping the route in 2009.

Airport owner St. Clair County lost more than $6 million in 2013 alone on operations. That figure climbed to nearly $13 million counting depreciation.

Small airports across the country are struggling to draw passengers after a wave of industry consolidation and service cuts.

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
Associated Press

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