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Watch now: Frontier Airlines will offer direct flights from Bloomington to Las Vegas

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Nonstop flights on Frontier Airlines, from Bloomington to Las Vegas, Nev. will begin August 12. Fares start at $49, and flights will run on Thursdays and Sundays.

BLOOMINGTON — Starting this summer, travelers can fly directly from the Twin Cities to Sin City. 

Nonstop flights on Frontier Airlines, from Bloomington to Las Vegas, will take off Aug. 12, Central Illinois Regional Airport officials announced Tuesday. 

Fares start at $49, and flights will run on Thursdays and Sundays. Departure and arrival times have not yet been announced.

"This is tremendously exciting," said CIRA executive director Carl Olson. "Las Vegas is a tremendous destination for Central Illinois, and the combination of Frontier's new nonstop service with low fares is going to be a huge hit for all of Central Illinois."

Tuesday's announcement comes as CIRA continues to record a rebound in passenger totals, following a lull caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pantagraph in April detailed how the airport hosted only 183,190 total passengers in 2020, recording a 56.5% reduction from 2019.

As of March, the airport logged 54,109 total passengers. That's still down 32.6% compared to last year's first quarter, but the figures are also up nearly 5,000 passengers from March 2020. 

And as of May 2021, the airport is logging a 24% decrease in total passengers compared to this time in 2019, Olson said. 

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Central Illinois Regional Airport executive director Carl Olson, center, announces on Tuesday that nonstop flights on Frontier Airlines, from Bloomington to Las Vegas, Nev., will start Aug. 12. 

CIRA is also logging a load factor between 70% and 80%, meaning seats in airplanes are more full than empty. 

Most of the recovery, Olson said, has been driven by leisure travel.

"But we're starting to see a slow growth of business travel," Olson said. "We hope by late summer, early fall, the business travelers will start coming back in larger numbers."

Carl Olson, CIRA, mug with face mask

Olson

That calculus aligns with figures Olson shared with The Pantagraph in April, which showed that flights so far in 2021 had been split at about 85% leisure and 15% business.

Typically there's a 50-50 split between passengers traveling for leisure and passengers traveling for business. 


Three months into 2021, the Central Illinois Regional Airport has logged 54,109 total passengers. Only 183,190 total passengers passed-through in 2020. 


Olson said the direct flight to Las Vegas is largely a response to the rise in leisure travel. 

"There's a lot of pent-up demand to get out and start enjoying life again," Olson said. "This is a good time to do this, this is a good place to do it."

The new flight also means that CIRA now offers 10 nonstop flights to southern, western and northern states, provided by four different airlines.

Las Vegas is the third destination that Frontier services from CIRA. It also offers direct flights to Denver and Orlando, which in the first quarter of 2021 were at 8,187 passengers. 

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A Frontier Airlines airplane is pictured in this Pantagraph file photo. The Colorado-based airline will suspend nonstop direct flights from Central Illinois Regional Airport to Las Vegas starting Oct. 3.

CIRA first offered a flight to the entertainment and gambling destination in the Mojave Desert starting in summer 2007. AirTran Airways — the airline that serviced the route — nixed the flight in April 2008, because of inflated fuel costs.

Olson said Tuesday that CIRA is "very happy" the service has returned, and that it represents a "good relationship" that the airport sees as "growing stronger now." 

"For Bloomington-Normal, this another destination here from the Central Illinois Regional Airport," Olson said. "We're very proud of that especially in a community and a market our size, to be able to have 10 destinations, to top flight business and leisure places all around the United States." 


Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert

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