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Joslin Field

A pilot with Allegiant Air inspects an aircraft in 2011 before its departure for Las Vegas from Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS • For Allegiant Air, offering flights between Twin Falls and Las Vegas will end as a bad business gamble.

Allegiant will permanently stop its twice-weekly air service between Twin Falls and Las Vegas on Jan. 1, Twin Falls airport officials said Friday.

The airline has already informed Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport, of its plans to discontinue flights, said Airport Manager Bill Carberry.

“Their last flight will be Sunday, January 1,” Carberry said.

Carberry said that while the airline’s flights have been popular, his understanding is that Allegiant wasn’t getting the ticket prices it would have liked from its Twin Falls flights.

“It has been a difficult time for them to initiate a new route in this recession,” he said.

The company bills itself as a provider of direct flights to underserved regions. Allegiant announced its Twin Falls flights in April 2010 to much fanfare, bringing in a Las Vegas showgirl for an announcement aimed at drawing leisure travelers. Flights began in June.

Even before Allegiant’s decision to pull out, its Magic Valley service saw interruption. Citing a seasonal decrease in passengers, Allegiant suspended its Twin Falls flights in September, brining them back in mid-November.

Between June 2010 and August 2011, Allegiant counted 14,993 enplanements in Twin Falls, according to airport data. Enplanements count the number of times a passenger boards a plane, not individual passengers.

“Unfortunately, due to lack of market demand, we will end our service between Twin Falls and Las Vegas. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers,” Allegiant President Andrew C. Levy said in a written statement. “Magic Valley Regional Airport has been a great partner for Allegiant and we thank its staff for their support and professionalism.”

Allegiant said it would directly contact travelers who have booked flights for beyond Jan. 1 and give them a full refund.

Carberry said he heard from the airline with the news at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Allegiant’s decision was closely guarded, even within the company. Kristine Cooper, an Allegiant spokeswoman, said Friday she wasn’t aware of the change when the Times-News interviewed her Wednesday about the airline’s future in the region.

She called the airline’s departure from Twin Falls “sad news.”

Joslin Field still has three daily flights to Salt Lake City through SkyWest, a Delta carrier.

Ben Botkin may be reached at 735-3238.

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