April 10, 2012 - 1:02 am
Allegiant Travel Co. continued its aggressive growth in March but projected it will slow as the year goes on.
The Las Vegas-based airline reported that the 764,000 passengers it carried on both scheduled and charter flights marked a 23.3 percent gain from the same month last year. Because the number of miles each seat flew went up at a slightly higher rate, the occupancy level — known in the industry as load factor — dropped 0.6 percentage points, to 90.3 percent.
For the first quarter, the 1.8 million passengers were up 16.8 percent from a year ago, while the load factor at Allegiant slipped to 88.7 percent from 89.6 percent.
Less than one-tenth of Allegiant’s flying is done for charter clients.
For the entire system, the number of departures is projected to increase from 8 to 12 percent in the second quarter, then drop to 2 percent to 6 percent in the third quarter. By contrast, departures rose 20.4 percent in the first quarter.
Typically, Allegiant scales back its expansion during the third quarter as leisure travel falls off with the end of summer, said spokesman Brian Davis. In addition, rising fuel prices have played a role in curbing growth, as has happened at other airlines.
Because Allegiant is currently remodeling its fleet to add 16 seats to each plane and is bringing on larger planes, the number of seats it can sell will grow.