Allegiant Air Flights from LIMA to Fla. Start Friday

Allegiant Air begins flying to and from Long Island MacArthur Airport and Punta Gorda in Fort Myers, Fla. on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013.

Allegiant Air begins offering nonstop flights to and from Long Island MacArthur Airport to Florida starting Friday, just in time for so-called snow birds to fly south for winter, which starts Saturday.

The Las Vegas-based airline will operate two nonstop flights a week at 6:15 p.m. Mondays and Fridays on jetliners with a capacity of 166 passengers at an initial introductory fare of $99 roundtrip, and then $69 one way to and from Punta Gorda in Fort Myers, Fla.

“We are confident Long Islanders will appreciate the convenience of flying out of centrally-located MacArthur Airport and the value that only comes with Allegiant’s low cost brand of service,” said Andrew Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Company.

Allegiant is the fourth airline to offer service at LIMA in Ronkonkoma. Alaska-based PenAir started daily flights to and from Boston this year. U.S. Airways Express offers flights to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. while Southwest Airlines offers direct flights to five cities and connecting service to more than 40 others.

Four Long Islanders Who Keep Us Flying

The new addition, announced over the summer, is welcome news for Islip town officials that run the airport and have been struggling with a 46.4 percent loss of commercial flights at LIMA from 2007 through last year. Officials also announced a push over the summer to make LIMA an international airport. Nearly 1.4 million passengers traveled through LIMA last year.

“Allegiant’s arrival will help our residents get to an extremely popular destination without having to use another, less convenient, congested airport,” Islip Town Councilman Steve Flotteron said.

Islip town officials are planning to host a ceremony near the Christmas tree inside the LIMA terminal to celebrate the new airline’s inaugural flight, which may be the first of more service to come.