Fresno always seems to incite more discussion both pro and con than most cities its size.
The map helped place FAT for those who didn't know but as far as market, there is a potential market of over 1,630,552 people broken down as follows:
The Census Bureau places the Fresno MSA at 922,516. Additionally beginning roughly 25 miles to the south is the Visalia/Tulare/Porterville MSA with 368,021. The only air service in that MSA is UAX with VIS-LAX twice daily, meaning passengers drive to FAT or BFL (70 miles south of VIS) or further. Also to the south the same distance is Kings County, home to 129,461 people with no air service. To the north 60 miles is the Merced MSA with 210,554 as well as several rural mountain counties. The only air service in the Merced MSA is on Scenic to LAS. Thus pax drive to FAT or MOD or further.
Larger airports within a 4 hour drive of FAT include SMF, SFO, OAK, SJC, LAX, and BUR.
Charlieduke is probably right about the size of the FAT driveaway. In 2000 FAT handled roughly the same number of passengers as in 1980 even though area population doubled in those 20 years.
I believe that FAT and other similiar markets will begin to recover some of their driveaway in 2002. The additional 2 hours to clear security versus the days prior to 9/11 will cause some to question the benefit of driving 3 hours to a larger airport. That is beginning to appear to be the case as FAT is only 5-10% below normal pax numbers while many airports remain 20% below normal. Probably one reason that AA will add an additional FAT-DFW in April.
Allegiant lost money in LGB and TVL not at FAT. They appear to be reorganizing themselves quite well with FAT-LAS combined with charter income. In fact they just added MD87s to replace their DC-9-51s.
Allegiant's service to Laughlin is determined by Harrah's not by Allegiant itself. The reasons will have as much to do with where Fresno travellers prefer to gamble as anything. Apparently not enough choose Laughlin over LAS or even local reservation casinos.
As far as WN, I think they have some surprises up their sleeves for 2002 to 2004. We'll see you all on a Southwest flight out of Fresno sooner than you think.