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Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
A small aircraft prepares to land at the Ogden Hinckley Airport on Monday, September 17, 2012. This Thursday, the airport will start commercial service to and from Mesa, Arizona

OGDEN — This week marks a giant leap forward in regional air travel for northern Utah. For the first time, commercial flights will arrive and depart from Ogden-Hinckley Airport.

Beginning Thursday, Allegiant Air will provide twice weekly service between Ogden and Mesa, Ariz. Allegiant Air is a subsidiary of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co. The flights will travel on Sundays and Thursdays.

The inaugural flight is scheduled to arrive from Mesa at 8:40 a.m. Thursday, with the initial departure out of Ogden scheduled for 12:40 p.m.

Ogden-Hinckley Airport manager Royal Eccles said the facility hopes to eventually expand service with flights to more desirable regional locales.

"(Allegiant Air) has other destinations that we are hoping to add in the future," Eccles said. "We have data that shows our market can fill those seats to other markets that they serve."

Ogden is working to develop increased regional air transit to cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix, he said. Currently, the airport has the capacity to serve larger regional jet aircraft that hold around 130 passengers, making future growth a distinct possibility.

"The sky is the limit," Eccles said. "There are options to grow. The ability to bring people in and move people out at a (reasonable) cost is just great."

The move to bring commercial flights to Weber County comes in the wake of the announcement last week that Frontier Airlines would be discontinuing service to Utah County.

As a cost-cutting measure, Frontier is halting its service into Provo Municipal Airport beginning early next year.

The company announced Friday its intent to suspend service to the Provo Municipal Airport beginning Jan. 7, as part of a fleet reduction. The airline will pull out of Provo just 15 months after first landing there in 2011.

Provo city officials were told by Frontier that the airline hopes to resume flights at some date in the future.

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Airport manager Steve Gleason said Frontier's flights out of Provo — to and from Denver — were 75 percent full, which would typically lead to additional flights, not canceling them altogether. However, Frontier instead updated its schedule on Sept. 9, and no flights to or from Provo will be offered after Jan. 7.

Frontier began daily service at the Provo airport last year with a 99-seat aircraft. Earlier this year, before this most recent scheduling change, the airline announced it would start sending a 140-seat airbus to the airport in January.

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