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Billings mayor Tom Hanel announces a new flight

Billings Mayor Tom Hanel announces a new flight to Oakland, Calif., as assistant director of aviation and transport Kevin Ploehn, left, and director Tom Binford, right, unroll a banner at Billings Logan International Airport Tuesday morning.

Beginning April 26, Allegiant Travel Co. will fly nonstop from Billings to the Bay Area twice a week and is offering introductory fares as low as $39.99 for a one-way ticket.

Allegiant Air will also offer direct flights to Oakland from Bozeman, Kalispell and Missoula.

Local flights will leave Billings Logan International Airport at 10:55 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and arrive at Oakland International Airport at 12:20 p.m. The return flight leaves Oakland at 7 a.m. Thursdays and Sundays and lands in Billings at 10:15 a.m.

Flight schedules can change with limited notice.

"Flights out of Eastern Montana markets are a great gateway for people to get out of the cold and go someplace fun," said Kevin Ploehn, Billings' assistant director of aviation and transit.

Allegiant Air began flying to Billings six years ago and offers direct flights to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

No officials from Allegiant attended Tuesday's news conference at the Billings airport confirming the California flight. The introductory fare includes taxes and fees, but not some other charges, including checking bags.

The company, based in Las Vegas, is opening a new operations center in Oakland that will employ 80 people. The airline employs one full-time and seven part-time people in Billings who work for a subcontractor, Worldwide Flight Services.

The airline is retrofitting its fleet of 150-seat MD-80s. By removing the galley, Allegiant can add another 16 seats per plane. Allegiant also is adding Boeing 757s to its fleet, but those larger planes may not be used in Billings.