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MidAmerica Airport

MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

MASCOUTAH • MidAmerica Airport is set to begin flights to Fort Myers, Fla., in February — its fourth destination through Allegiant Air, the only airline that serves the St. Clair County airport.

Officials formally announced the flight Thursday, as well as some one-way $52 fares.

The sale fares must be bought by Monday for travel through Aug. 17.

And that price is for debit-card purchases — an additional fee of up to $8 each way per passenger could be added for credit card users, Allegiant said. Baggage fees apply to carry-on and checked bags.

The flights will operate twice weekly beginning Feb. 18 on Thursdays and Sundays. Most will be on Airbus A320 planes, which have 177 seats, said Daniel Meier, Allegiant’s manager of airports.

Nonstop flights to Las Vegas returned this month to the airport after a six-year hiatus.

The Las Vegas-based Allegiant suspended all service in 2009 to the airport after a 3½-year run with flights to Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. Allegiant said at the time that its decision was prompted by “competitive influences” and “weakened market demand.”

Allegiant resumed passenger flights from MidAmerica in late 2012. It currently offers service to two airports in Florida — Orlando-Sanford International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, which is four miles north of St. Petersburg near Tampa.

MidAmerica Airport opened in 1997. At the time, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was flush with Trans World Airlines flights, and officials thought the region could use another airport to absorb the spillover.

But the airport, a joint-use airfield with Scott Air Force Base that is 25 miles from downtown St. Louis, has struggled to attract service.

The $313 million airport sat empty for the first two years before landing its first airline. That airline, Pan American, ceased flights in December 2001 after 16 months, citing sluggish ticket sales.

St. Clair County and the state of Illinois paid part of the cost to build the airport, with the federal government picking up the rest.