Allegiant goes to Pittsburgh

Lots of people in Pittsburgh want to visit the Smokies, Allegiant Air is betting.

To serve them, the budget carrier is adding twice weekly nonstop flights between Pittsburgh International Airport and Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport, starting May 17.

“We’re excited to grow again in the Knoxville area,” Drew Wells, Allegiant vice president of planning and revenue, said in the announcement. “We’re confident that Pittsburgh-area travelers will take advantage of these convenient, ultra-low-cost, nonstop flights to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains and all that this beautiful region has to offer.”

There aren’t necessarily crowds of Knoxvillians eager to get to Pittsburgh, but lots of Pennsylvanians will want to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park – enough to bring 4,500 people per year from Pittsburgh to the Knoxville area, according to the news release.

“We see pent-up demand, actually, from people in the Pittsburgh area,” said Kim Schaefer, Allegiant director of public relations.

Only a month ago Allegiant announced twice weekly nonstop flights from Knoxville to and from Denver, Colorado. Those are due to start May 22.

Frontier and United airlines already flew from Knoxville to Denver, but Allegiant’s flights to Pittsburgh will add a new destination.

In June the discount carrier said it would base two 166-seat Airbus jets permanently in Knoxville. No new routes were announced at the time, but Allegiant officials said then that more destinations would probably come soon.

“With today’s announcement of nonstop flights to Pittsburgh, Allegiant continues to expand its base of operations at McGhee Tyson Airport with nine nonstop destinations,” Eddie Mannis, chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, said in the announcement. “We appreciate Allegiant’s investment in our community and will continue to work with them to grow their service in our region.”

Since Knoxville has become an Allegiant base, local officials are “very hopeful” more flights to and from here will be announced, said Caitlin Darras, senior public relations specialist at McGhee Tyson Airport.

There’s plenty of room at the Knoxville airport to handle more flights, she said.

Allegiant does expect to keep adding flights at Knoxville, though none are firm enough to announce, Schaefer said.

“We consider Knoxville to be a very strategically important city in our network,” she said. “We see continued future opportunities for growth there.”

To kick off Knoxville-Pittsburgh service, Allegiant is offering fares as low as $49 on that route. The price is part of a round-trip itinerary, and includes taxes, carrier charges and other fees, according to the news release.

Those low-price tickets must be bought by Wednesday, Feb. 13, for use by Aug. 13, 2019.

After that, prices will vary, with the lowest around $71, Darras said.

Fares and flight schedules can be found at; the company now also offers rental car and hotel booking.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant, which began in 1999, now flies more than 80 jets on more than 300 routes nationwide, according to the company.

Basing two planes in Knoxville amounted to a $50 million investment and was expected to add up to 66 new jobs, likely averaging $80,000 to $90,000 pay per year.

McGhee Tyson, which saw nearly 2 million passengers last year, has seen announcement of several new flights recently. American Eagle, regional carrier for American Airlines, is to start twice-daily nonstop flights to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on Feb. 14. American also began service to Miami in December. The airport is served by Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and United.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Jim Gaines

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit


Published February 19, 2019