Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (IATA: LBE, ICAO: KLBE, FAA LID: LBE) is a public airport in the eastern United States, located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, two miles (3 km) southwest of Latrobe and about 33 miles (53 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. It is owned by the Westmoreland County Airport Authority and was formerly “Westmoreland County Airport.”
Spirit Airlines says it doesn’t expect nonstop flights it plans to introduce this spring and summer from Pittsburgh International Airport to destinations in South Carolina and Florida will adversely affect similar service offered at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.
“I don’t believe there’s going to be an impact,” Spirit spokesman Paul Berry said Tuesday after the low-fare carrier announced planned operations at the Allegheny County airport.
The new service includes one daily flight to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Dallas-Fort Worth, beginning May 25; to Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas, beginning June 22; and to Houston and Los Angeles, beginning July 13. Travelers will be able to board flights from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., three days per week beginning June 15.
Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Myrtle Beach also can be reached from Arnold Palmer Regional, where Spirit is the sole carrier offering regularly scheduled service. In a positive move at the Unity airport, Berry said Fort Lauderdale summer flights will expand to a daily schedule beginning May 25 rather than the normal five days per week. Fort Myers and Tampa are additional Florida destinations Spirit offers from the Unity airport.
“We see Latrobe Airport and Pittsburgh as two totally distinct and different airports,” Berry said, pointing out that the Palmer airport has the advantage of free parking. “They’re going to complement each other. It gives the people of the region more choices.”
Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmore-land County Airport Authority that operates the Unity facility, agreed.
“It will be more business for everybody and good for the consumers,” he said.
Spirit’s Pittsburgh move “doesn’t change anything” at the airport near Latrobe, Monzo said. “We’re going to stay the course.”
That includes proceeding with budgeted work this year to rehabilitate and widen a runway and increase parking spaces. A proposed expansion of the airport terminal, with an estimated cost of at least $8 million, will have to wait until funding can be found, Monzo has said.
Spirit’s arrival in 2011 has been the major boost in passenger traffic behind the Westmoreland authority’s expansion plan.
The number of inbound and outbound passengers soared from 64,013 that first year to 355,910 in 2015. That figure slipped to 289,832 last year, with Spirit attributing the unprecedented drop to its decision to eliminate flights from the Unity airport to Chicago and Las Vegas that weren’t meeting profitability goals.
Berry noted Spirit’s expansion in Southwestern Pennsylvania mirrors its presence in Ohio, where he said it offers complementary flights originating from two airports that are not far apart — in Cleveland and Akron-Canton.
At Pittsburgh International, Spirit will join 15 existing carriers, including budget airlines Frontier and Allegiant. Spirit’s service to Los Angeles will restore a second daily flight from Pittsburgh to the West Coast city, a route that American Airlines recently dropped. Southwest Airlines also has an L.A. flight.