Seats sell out on new US airline

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The Independent Travel

A new airline in the United States which hopes to assist areas hit by the Gulf Coast oil spill last year has reported an excellent response to its first sale of tickets.

Vision Airlines, a small charter carrier which started out offering sightseeing tours of the Grand Canyon, last week unveiled a massive expansion plan which will see it serve 23 cities as a commercial carrier.

Thanks to a fare sale which offered tickets priced at $49 (€39), the company said January 24 that it sold some 12,000 tickets in its first five days of selling and promised to add more seats to the promotion.

The new routes are due to begin operation on March 25 and will be focused on Florida's Gulf Coast, where Vision says it is "expected to play a pivotal role in the revitalization of the state's gulf coast tourism economy."

First destinations will include flights between gulf coast tourist hub such as Destin/Fort Walton Beach and cities in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and New York, using large airliners which Florida tourism officials predict will bring in thousands of visitors.

"Because airfares to our area have been so expensive, most tourists drive here for long vacations," said Mark Bellinger, director of Okaloosa County's Tourism Development Council.

"Now they can afford to fly here - even for weekend getaways."

A study released last year by the U.S. Travel Association suggested that tourism along the Gulf Coast could suffer the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for up to three years.

The specific targeting of districts not well served by the major airlines is a tactic Vision appears to have borrowed from some of its other low-cost contemporaries, such as Allegiant Air in the US and Ryanair in Europe.

Allegiant is widely considered a success story in US aviation but remains a small carrier in comparison to competitors such as Southwest - it carried 5.9 million passengers in 2010, up nearly 11 percent on the year before.