April 14, 2016
Shelby Danielsen, WTLV
The Jacksonville International Airport launched its first direct flight to New Orleans through Allegiant Airlines on Thursday. The flight is one of nine new direct flights coming to JIA through the discount airline.
Friday morning JIA will add two more flights through Allegiant, one to Memphis, Tennessee and one to Richmond, Virginia.
Right now, Allegiant already offers year-round direct flights to Cincinnati and Pittsburg from JIA, but by the end of the summer it will add another year-round direct flight to Indianapolis and seasonal flights to Columbus, Asheville, and St. Louis.
To kick off the inaugural New Orleans flight on Thursday cooks were brought in to bake treats for passengers and hand out free cookie and coffee.
Once the plane took off, it backed up between two fire trucks and water canons sprayed over the airplane as it departed.
“The coolest part is that it’s a-la-carte, you just pay for what you need, and that was cool for me," said passenger Freddie Zorang. "The other thing I really enjoy is that I get a straight flight from Jacksonville to New Orleans. It’s quick, I can hop on over there, see my friends, and so that’s pretty much what I’m into.”
Zorang says there is a big population of "Louisianans" in Jacksonville following Hurricane Katrina. He and his family is a prime example. They moved to Jacksonville after the hurricane and now frequently go back to visit.
Allegiant received some scrutiny after it experienced long wait times and mechanical problems causing some planes to be diverted, but JIA says they are supportive of the airline and have received positive feedback from the public.