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Allegiant Air may jet to Phoenix airport after Mesa ‘dishonesty’

PHOENIX — Allegiant Air may soon call Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport home after claiming Mesa officials planned to subsidize a rival company’s destination.

“There’s a whole history around this subsidy of just dishonesty,” Brian Davis with Allegiant said.

Mike Merk with Phoenix-Mesa Gateway said Allegiant has brought about five million passengers to the East Valley since 2007 and the airport is not ready to call it quits.

“If they’re having hard feelings because we brought in a small airline, we’re going to make them feel like they’re the most important customer in town,” he said.

Davis said incoming airline Elite Airways was offered a revenue subsidy by the airport to serve the Salt Lake City area.

Davis said while his airline disagrees with subsidized routes in general, Allegiant took offense when Elite was offered compensation to fly a route Allegiant already served.

The airline expressed its concern to airport officials, and believed the subsidy was off the table after it was not presented during a public meeting.

Davis alleged the city intentionally removed the subsidy from the public presentation but left it on the official vote as “an active act of deceiving us and the public.”

Merk said the relationship between the airport and Allegiant is mutually beneficial.

“We really appreciate the relationship and I believe they do because we’re a low-cost airport,” he said, adding Allegiant flies to about 30 percent of its destinations from Mesa.

Allegiant is booking flights at Mesa Gateway through mid-February. Davis said a decision to move could be made in the fall, when the airline typically opens booking for spring flights.

Merk believes Allegiant’s contract with the airport runs through December 2016.

Though it was offered the Salt Lake City subsidy, Elite will begin service with just one route — three weekly flights between Mesa and San Diego. The Florida-based airline signed a one-year contract with the airport.

KTAR’s Jeremy Foster and Paul Ihander contributed to this report.

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