New aircraft base at VPS brings more jobs

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OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport has landed more flight starting this June.

Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air announced it'll serve five more destinations out of VPS. Airport officials said this will create an economic boom for the area.

Allegiant officials announced their calling VPS home by making the airport a year-round aircraft base. They've been serving the airport over the past few years, but never operated a base out of Fort Walton Beach.

"We started our service here two years ago and the response from the communities that we're serving to Destin was very, very strong. With limited resources we have an obligation to go where the growth is and clearly the consumer was telling us this is a popular destination," said Thayne Klingler, Director of Airport Affairs for Allegiant.

VPS officials say the new base will bring in more than $400 million in revenue over the next five years.

"They had plenty of choices, we have the lowest cost per plane passenger in the entire region. We're the front door, we're dead center in the region and of course the beautiful beaches, this is paradise," said Tracy Stage, Airport Director at VPS.

Paradise may offer up to 65 new high-paying jobs to locals.

"Pilots, flight crew, ground crew, all the folks that make an airline work," said Stage.

Residents can also look forward to traveling to new destinations. Allegiant officials say they'll be adding new flights starting in early June.

Those new flights will be out of Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, Concord Regional Airport, Blue Grass Airport, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Evansville Regional Airport.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant is investing more than $49 million to establish a year-round base at VPS. The airport will house two Airbus aircraft.

We asked VPS officials when residents could see in-state flights and they said they're working on adding those, but didn't give us a timetable.