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Allegiant decision leaves desired route up in the air

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- If you were planning to fly directly from the Port City to the Magic Kingdom, not so fast. Allegiant Air announced last night it is ending service next week between Wilmington and Orlando, FL.

This is the second non-stop flight cut from ILM in the last year. But why?

"The airlines have to look at revenue versus expenses, and they are a niche airline meaning they are a travel company. They are unlike other commercial service airlines," ILM Airport Director Jon Rosborough said.

After January 25, Allegiant will stop its flights between ILM and Orlando-Sanford Airport. The flights to the Sunshine State have been less full in the last couple months. That is one reason Allegiant gave for cutting the service.

Travelers in Wilmington will still be able to get to Orlando, though.

"It doesn't mean because (American Airlines) pulled out of Chicago or because (Allegiant) pulled out of Orlando, that people can't get there," Rosborough said. "They can still get on USAir, they can still get on Delta, and they just have to go through Charlotte of Atlanta to get to those points of destination, which they did before we had those two services in place."

ILM says it is more of a business-based airport, compared to a more leisure-based destination like myrtle beach.

Travelers say the flights that are optional will most likely get cut first.

"All you have to do is take a look at the current economy," traveler Daniel Binz said. "With the payroll tax being eliminated, not being renewed, people have less money to spend, and leisure is going to be one of the first things to go."

Rosborough says things could change. He says market and economic factors could convince Allegiant to restore service to Orlando or American to revive its flights between Wilmington and Chicago.

Allegiant is contacting passengers who already booked flights and refunding fares.

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