Avelo breaks 50K customers from Wilmington
WILMINGTON – The return of commercial passenger airline service has been a rousing success for Delaware, as carrier Avelo Airlines reported that it has already surpassed 50,000 customers served as of June 1.
With more than 400 flights in 120 days, it puts Avelo on pace to break the 2016 annual record high of 103,863 passengers served through Wilmington by Frontier Airlines in its first stint in serving Delaware.
The achievement also comes as Avelo is preparing to dramatically expand its flight destinations outside of Florida for the first time since launching service from the Wilmington Airport (ILG) in February.
On June 22, it will add Nashville (BNA) in Tennessee; Charleston (CHS), Myrtle Beach (MYR) and Greenville/Spartanburg (GSP) in South Carolina, Raleigh/Durham (RDU) and Wilmington (ILM) in North Carolina; Savannah (SAV) in Georgia and Daytona Beach (DAB) in Florida.
Avelo has notably cut Melbourne/Cocoa Beach (MLB) in Florida from its updated roster of destinations after initially announcing it in April.
For the remaining eight new destinations, the airline is offering promo $19 one-way fares for flights up to July 31 that are booked by June 8.
“Taking a family vacation or long weekend getaway this summer is now more affordable than ever,” Avelo Airlines Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy said in a statement. “We are excited for these new routes to take flight later this month and are very encouraged by the continued customer enthusiasm we are seeing at ILG. The momentum we are experiencing here is a strong testament to the convenient, affordable and reliable alternative Avelo offers travelers from across Philly and the greater Delaware Valley region.”
Pairing a strong marketing push in the Delaware market with top customer service ratings, Avelo has found a ready customer base seeking to avoid the hassles of larger airports in Philadelphia or Baltimore. It currently houses a Boeing 737 jet at Wilmington Airport, and it is scheduled to add a second to serve the growing markets this month. It’s already hired 90 people in Delaware as pilots, flight attendants, maintenance technicians, airport crew members and supervisors, with more roles still to be hired.
Stephen Williams, deputy director of the Delaware River & Bay Authority and manager of the airport, said they’ve been “very encouraged by the customer response.”
“This is unprecedented in a lot of ways. Before Avelo, an airline never put this kind of marketing push behind service here,” he said, noting that word of mouth recommendations have been high. “I’ve had people stop me all the time to let me know that their friends and family and others are trying [Avelo] and it really has been a universally great experience.”
Williams said that Avelo likely dropped its plans for Melbourne/Cocoa Beach because it already serves nearby Orlando and will now serve Daytona Beach just to the north. Slow early sales trends may have precipitated a change for that destination.
“They’ve been pretty honest with me about what’s working and what’s not. For instance, West Palm Beach will go seasonal after July, with service returning in October,” he said. “They have said to me that all the other markets are booking really well. And they’re not afraid to make cuts or reduce service, so the fact that it’s just Melbourne is a pretty good indication that the others are doing well.”