The new Allegiant Air route will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays, flying between Idaho Falls and John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.
City officials said John Wayne is “easier” to navigate than Los Angeles International Airport, and it provides better access to California theme parks and Orange County beaches.
“Idaho Falls is very excited to add this new flight in our continued partnership with Allegiant,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said in a press release.
The airline already flies from Idaho Falls to Las Vegas, Oakland/San Francisco, Phoenix, Portland and San Diego.
“Having Allegiant show such interest in our city and region reflects upon all the good we have to offer,” Casper said in the release. “We are truly proud of facilitating this service to Idaho Falls and the strides made at our airport.”
Local passenger totals have increased dramatically since Allegiant first attempted a seasonal direct route between Idaho Falls and the Los Angeles area, beginning in 2010.
That year, about 144,000 enplanements were recorded at Idaho Falls Regional Airport.
By 2021, the tally had more than tripled, to about 445,000, making Idaho Falls Regional the second-busiest airport in the state.
Airport Director Rick Cloutier said he used the enplanement data to convince Allegiant to initiate nonstop service to the Los Angeles area year-round.
“We’ve been working hard with Allegiant to show them (we) can support year-round service,” Cloutier said. “All of our data proved (that) even in the winter we have passengers going back and forth between the Southern California area. … Idahoans want to go to California, (and) Californians want to come up and enjoy some of the winter activities we have.”
When the new Allegiant route begins May 18, Idaho Falls Regional will offer nonstop service to 14 destinations, with an average of 16 daily flights.
Larger aircraft will start serving Idaho Falls this year, too, Cloutier said, and there will be more flights to destinations such as Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Dallas, Phoenix and Denver.
Plus, the airport is “nearly finished” with a $12 million, 38,000-square-foot expansion project that has resulted in two new terminal gates, more restaurant space, and improvements in the Transportation Security Administration screening area.
The airport expansion, additional flights and larger aircraft should all help Idaho Falls accommodate an anticipated increase in passengers flying into the region this year to mark the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park — which kicked off Tuesday — even while the Jackson Hole Airport is closed for renovations April through June.
“We expect to see a lot of that traffic,” Cloutier said. “We’re pretty ready for that.”