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Low-cost airline Allegiant will establish a two-aircraft year-round base at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), creating about 65 new jobs and adding service to five new cities.

The Las Vegas-based airline first established service at VPS in 2016. Since then, Okaloosa County officials have approved a number of incentives for Allegiant, including a $1 million tax exemption approved last October under the code name “Project True Blue.” Unlike many airlines which use a hub-and-spoke or point-to-point system, Allegiant employs what they call an “out-and-back” model whereby aircraft and crews return to base after a day of flying. VPS will become Allegiant’s 14th year-round base.

“We are excited to continue our growth in Florida’s Emerald Coast by establishing a full-time base at Destin-Fort Walton Beach,” said Allegiant chairman and CEO Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr.. “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.”

Beginning in June, Allegiant will launch new seasonal service between VPS and Bentonville, Ark.; Concord, N.C.; Lexington, Ky.; Evansville, Ind.; and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. The seasonal service brings the total number of cities served by Allegiant from Destin-Fort Walton to 21.

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

The company will invest about $49 million to establish a year-round base at VPS, which will house two Airbus aircraft. Officials expect the base to have a “deep and lasting impact” on the region’s economy, projecting that it will bring some $418 million in tourism revenue over the next five years.

“Allegiant’s new announcement is such great news for the people of Okaloosa County,” said Okaloosa County Commission chairman Graham Fountain. “The creation of a new hub for a national airline that comes with over 65 new jobs at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport helps fulfill our mission of creating additional high-paying jobs in the county.”

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