VIENNA - Officials at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport Thursday marked the six years of growth with Allegiant Air by looking at what might lie ahead if area travelers show enough support.
Speaking at a reception in the terminal, aviation Director Dan Dickten said the airport is being considered for Las Vegas casino flights, possibly one or two at first, in a deal with Las Vegas casino / hotel operator Caesar's.
Dickten said Caesar's plans to decide at the end of the month whether to offer the service starting in September from the Vienna airport or from Pittsburgh.
Airport officials asked visitors at the reception - and anyone interested in the flights - to fill out a survey, which will be submitted to Caesar's.
Noting 2,000 surveys were filled out in the last 72 hours, Dickten said, "Caesar's already is floored with the response we've gotten so far."
Liberty resident Liz Spencer said she'd be interested in a Las Vegas flight. She said she's flown Allegiant out of the airport three times to Sanford-Orlando, Fla.
"We were pleased with the service and flight," she said, adding she'd like a flight to Portland, Ore., to visit her son.
Eric Planey, vice president for international business attraction for the Regional Chamber, congratulated Allegiant Air for starting flights from the airport when it didn't have any daily service.
"That was a calculated risk on their part," he said. "For us to stand on our own two feet, we need successful air service here. It gives us credibility when we talk to companies."
Pointing to the area's booming natural gas shale industry, which has helped spur $2 billion-plus in economic attraction in the last few years, Planey said, "People coming for the shale need to get air service quickly."
Andres Visnapuu, a member of the Western Reserve Port Authority that oversees the airport, credited Dickten with fast growth in the airport's passenger service.
"This is the Dan Dickten Curve," he said, pointing to an overhead chart showing the airport's passenger traffic growing from zero in 2005 to a projected 75,000 this year, surpassing the 66,290 in 1998 before airlines began leaving. "This man eats and drinks the airport."
Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka voiced the county's support for the airport, which receives financial aid from Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
"The percent of passengers on each flight is very high," he said, referring to flights that typically are nearly filled. "It'll be a big boost if we get Las Vegas flights, even for families."
The birthday celebration coincided with Allegiant's resumption of flights to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Along with Sanford-Orlando, the airline also flies to the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., area from the airport.