Avelo Airlines launches Delaware service
NEW CASTLE – Delaware has once again shed its status as the only state to not have commercial passenger air service after Avelo Airlines made its inaugural flight from Wilmington-New Castle Airport (ILG) to Orlando on Wednesday.
The first flight has been anticipated by state and local officials since the startup, ultra-low-budget-carrier Avelo Airlines announced its arrival in the First State in October, succeeding a failed restart of service by rival carrier Frontier Airlines.
Avelo will not only fly from Delaware, but will build out a base of operations here, having already hired 50 crewmembers who will operate and maintain a Boeing 737 jet. It is reportedly also considering adding a second airplane here if sales remain steady.
On a snowy Wednesday morning, a full flight of passengers was joined by Avelo Airlines Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy on the trek south.
“Last October, we announced our plans to bring convenient, affordable and reliable air service to the Delaware Valley region. The strong booking trends we are seeing across all five Florida routes make it abundantly clear that people throughout this four-state region are excited about the faster and easier way Avelo will get them to The Sunshine State,” he said in a statement.
Gov. John Carney likewise heralded the return of service in a statement, saying, “We are excited to welcome Avelo Airlines to Delaware. Avelo provides passengers from our region an affordable and convenient way to travel. Recent investments in Wilmington Airport’s infrastructure will lead to an effortless travel experience. Thank you to Avelo for choosing Delaware.”
Nonstop flights from ILG are now available multiple times a week to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Fort Myers (RSW), Orlando (MCO), Tampa (TPA) and West Palm Beach (PBI). Introductory one-way fares are $49, although an unbundled pricing approach on baggage fees and other add-on amenities will mean most customers will pay more.
While Frontier struggled to fill its three-time-a-week flights from ILG to Orlando International Airport from February 2021 to this past June – federal data shows its flights were only about 55% full on average over that time – Levy thinks Avelo will do better through more robust destinations on both the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean coast of Florida along with Orlando.
Levy previously told Delaware Business Times that his airline would seek out load factors of 80% to 85%, a significant increase over what Frontier was able to find over the past year but in line with the rival’s scuttled first attempt at Delaware service from 2015 to 2017.
“Our business works on volume, so we have to fill airplanes,” he said, noting that their typical budget traveler is less likely to pay for substantial upgrades and amenities. “We need to build up to having a revenue per customer that that works, and a lot of that is driven right now by fuel prices.”
Avelo now serves 34 destinations nationwide, and has flown nearly 14,000 flights carrying 1.7 million passengers since it was founded nearly two years ago. It primarily targets smaller community airports where its data suggests there is underserved communities.
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