Allegiant Travel Company has set aside more than $50m to establish a two-aircraft base at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, US.

The company aims to start its base operations at the airport by next February. Once operational, Lehigh Valley Airport will become Allegiant’s 18th aircraft base.

Allegiant Government Affairs vice-president Keith Hansen said: “Lehigh Valley is a perfect location for a permanent base, which will further establish Allegiant as a hometown airline in eastern Pennsylvania.

“It has been a great area for Allegiant, where passenger demand has grown steadily over the years. As a base airport, having locally based aircraft and crews will give us a host of options for both new service and expanded operational hours.

“This will mean more opportunities for affordable, convenient travel for local residents and visitors to the area.”

The new aircraft base is expected to create approximately 66 new jobs for pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ground personnel.

Allegiant first launched operations from Lehigh Valley Airport in 2005 and has been operating seven direct services across the US to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, St Pete-Clearwater and Punta Gorda in Florida; Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; Nashville in Tennessee and Savannah in Georgia.

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The airline currently handles over 280,000 passengers each year through Lehigh Valley Airport.

Pennsylvania senator Patrick Browne said: “Today’s announcement ushers in a new era of leisure and commercial travel possibilities for the airport and our region.

“I applaud Allegiant for recognising the importance Lehigh Valley Airport plays in air travel and for choosing to expand their presence at the airport.”

Las Vegas-based Allegiant revealed its plans in January to set up a two-aircraft base at Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan, US.

In June last year, Allegiant said that it will also establish a two-aircraft base at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee.