Low-fare airline Allegiant has announced plans to invest more than $49 million to establish a year-round base of operations at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) in Florida, which will house two Airbus aircraft.

The airport, which offers regional and low-fare services, will become the airline’s 14th year-round aircraft base. The carrier used the airport as a seasonal base during summer 2017.

As part of Allegiant’s growth in Florida, the company anticipates adding more than 65 new, high-wage jobs during 2018.

“We are excited to continue our growth in Florida’s Emerald Coast by establishing a full-time base at Destin-Fort Walton Beach,” said Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., Allegiant’s chairman and CEO. “The base will not only afford many more options when it comes to adding routes and expanding service, but will also give us the opportunity to contribute even more to the community and the state’s economy.”

The aircraft base is expected to bring an anticipated $418 million to the region’s economy in tourism revenue on a five-year horizon.

Allegiant employs more than 4,000 team members across the country, and plans to immediately begin hiring pilots, flight attendants, maintenance technicians and ground personnel to support its operations.

Allegiant’s service in Destin-Fort Walton Beach began with six routes in 2016, and expanded to 16 cities in 2017. In celebration of the new base, the carrier has announced new, seasonal services to five cities, bringing the total number of cities with service to the Emerald Coast to 21.

“We are thrilled! Allegiant’s model fits like a glove at VPS and a year-round base will bring monumental widespread economic impacts to our region. We look forward to Allegiant’s continued success at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport,” said Tracy Stage, Okaloosa County’s airports director.

The new routes will operate twice weekly, and will bring nearly 25,000 additional visitors to the area.

Florida Governor Rick Scott called Allegiant’s announcement, “a great reminder of how our tourism industry supports Florida business and communities and creates new opportunities for our families.”

Scott added: “Tourism partners like Allegiant work hand-in-hand with VISIT FLORIDA to bring more visitors to our state and we must make sure this success continues by fully funding VISIT FLORIDA at $100 million. I look forward to seeing Allegiant’s success in Destin and across the state as we continue to welcome families from all across the world to Florida.”

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