Good news, Santa Maria — you'll soon have another day to fly to Vegas.
Allegiant Airlines is expanding its operations at the airport to increase the number of days it operates the route between Santa Maria and Las Vegas, Airport General Manager Chris Hastert confirmed Tuesday.
The airline currently runs the route between the two cities Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. In October, it'll add a Monday flight, as well.
Allegiant, which was founded in Fresno but is now based in Vegas, recently came under fire after a 60 Minutes investigative report called the airline's safety into question, citing a rash of in-air breakdowns in 2015 and more than 100 mechanical issues with the potential to endanger passengers between 2016 and 2017.
Vice President of Operations Eric Gust called the report "irresponsible" and "grossly misleading," saying it covered incidents that are years old.
Allegiant Airlines is the only airline to operate out of the Santa Maria Public Airport, since Mokulele Airlines ended its service to and from Los Angeles in November. Prior to that, United Airlines dropped service to the airport in late 2016 because those flights were underperforming.
Hastert said the airport district is actively working to attract a major carrier back to the city.
"This effort is more of a marathon than a sprint with many hurdles to overcome, including pilot shortages, increased size of regional aircraft, aircraft availability, airline mergers reducing the number of airlines to meet with, constant staff changes with the airline planning teams we meet with and competition for service with not only our close by surrounding airports, but many other small communities trying to add service," Hastert wrote in an email to The Tribune.
He said airport administration has had meetings with airlines that serve major hubs like Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Portland and Seattle.
They are also looking into opportunities at smaller hub airports like Oakland, San Jose, San Diego and Mesa, Arizona, he said.
"We are confident as the community continues to grow that our efforts will be successful," Hastert said. "We encourage businesses to share their travel need with us as much as possible to help us make a better case for Santa Maria during future meetings."