Allegiant Air plans to base a crew in Des Moines — the first airline to do so — in a $50 million project that will create 66 jobs and may bring new flight destinations.

Kevin Foley, airport executive director and general manager, said the jobs will carry an average salary of $90,000, according to Allegiant. Industry sources report that typical operations of this kind have jobs ranging from $12 an hour operations workers to $300,000 pilot positions. 

The $50 million includes two aircraft that will be based in Des Moines, related equipment, payroll and other expenses, Foley said in an interview. Jobs include flight attendants, mechanics, ticket agents, pilots and others. 

The airport will make minor changes to part of the terminal building to accommodate Allegiant’s new operation.

Members of Allegiant’s Des Moines crew will return to Des Moines at the end of each day. That means flights will have to be within a certain radius. That could mean Des Moines could ask Allegiant to add flights to New Orleans, for example, though that would be up to the company. 

Foley said it is unlikely that another airline will base a crew here, but the Allegiant move could increase competition. Already, Southwest Airlines has added a flight to Denver, and American Airlines is expected to announce a new flight from Des Moines soon, Foley added. 

“Activity creates activity,” Foley said. “The airlines watch each other.” 

Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, was scheduled to appear at a news conference today with Allegiant and airport officials. Foley said the Partnership played a role in lobbying for Allegiant to base a crew in Des Moines.

Foley said he began pushing for the development — which will have a significant economic impact in the metro — after he learned that Allegiant was looking for new spots to base crews in northern cities. 

“We’ve been working on this for 30 months,” Foley said. 

The Des Moines-based crew should be in place by next spring, though Allegiant had not given an exact date, Foley added.