March 5, 2009

Discount airlines have plans to grow

Discount airlines are providing the airline industry with growth opportunities despite downturns among larger carriers, a U.S. industry consultant said.

While larger areas are looking to trim capacity during a slump in consumer spending, discount carrier JetBlue Airways is adding new routes this year, USA Today reported. Ireland's Ryanair is negotiating with planemakers on the purchase of 200 new jets and is adding 40 this year. Canada's discount airline WestJet is expected to add nine jets this year and expand flying capacity by 5 percent.

These airlines' common denominator is their agility and cost structures that are compatible with today's economic reality, consultant Mo Garfinkle told the newspaper.

The good news is growth and opportunities in the industry aren't dead, Garfinkle said.

Among the discount airlines with lofty plans, Nevada's Allegiant Air will add 12 routes in and out of Los Angeles this year.

We're growing because our business caters to price-sensitive leisure travelers, Allegiant Managing Director Ponder Harrison said.