How one of America’s newest airlines, Avelo, stacks up to the competition

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

  • Avelo Airlines is one of America’s newest ultra-low-cost carrier, having started flights on April 28.
  • Its competitors include Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.
  • I flew on Avelo and saw why the airline is offering a better value thanks to its low fee structure.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Americans are ready to travel for leisure again, and more airlines are popping up to serve them.

Avelo Airlines became one of the first major US airlines to launch in 15 years when it debuted in April with three planes and 11 routes. Focusing on low-cost leisure routes, flights primarily serve social distancing-friendly destinations such as California Wine Country and Yellowstone National Park where activities can be enjoyed in peace and nature.

But Avelo is going up against tough and established competitors in the ultra-low-cost realm, which CEO Andrew Levy knows quite well as the cofounder of Allegiant Air. Rivals in the field include Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines, as well as Levy’s own Allegiant.

Read More: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

Those carriers don’t often enjoy the best reputations among customers, something that Avelo is aiming to change with a new attitude toward ultra-low-cost flying.

Here’s how Avelo stacks up with its competitors.

Low fares and low frills

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo began selling tickets in April with introductory fares as low as $19 on all 11 of its routes. The fares are undoubtedly low but not lower than competitors.

Frontier and Spirit frequently offer one-way fares for under $30 on many of its routes, and similarly low fares are not uncommon on Allegiant or Sun Country. But $19 is a great opening salvo for Avelo, especially when compared to rival startup Breeze that is offering fares starting at $39.

Read More: JetBlue’s founder is back with new low-cost airline Breeze. Here’s his plan to reinvent the budget market.

These are, however, introductory fares and there’s no saying just how high they’ll go after Avelo gets its footing. But CEO Andrew Levy did tell Insider that he wants the airline to be known as the go-to for low fares.

“We really want to build a brand that is about everyday low fares,” Levy said. “Quite honestly, I’d love to be able to do over many years what Southwest has done, where when people hear ‘Avelo,’ they just associate us with low fares.”

Less nickel-and-diming when it comes to extra fees

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Ultra-low-cost carriers rely on charging extra fees, known as ancillary fees, to make up for the low fares they offer, and Avelo is no different. Advance seat assignments, baggage, and bringing pets onboard will all incur an extra fee.

The difference between Avelo and many of its competitors, however, is that Avelo’s fees are much lower. Checking a bag, for example, will only incur a $10 fee on Avelo and seat assignments start at $5 for an aisle or window seat.

Bringing a carry-on bag is still $35 but passengers at least have the option to check a bag for cheaper. There are some caveats, such as an additional $10 fee if customers don’t pre-purchase baggage allowance online.

But there are some services for which Avelo doesn’t even charge a fee. Booking a flight through a call center, making changes, or even canceling a ticket will not incur a fee.

“As far as change fees are concerned. I think that’s one of the biggest pain points in the airline industry,” Levy said. “It’s been that way for years. Airlines for years have used that as a money grab, and it has no relationship to what it truly costs to manage a change.”

A limited network

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo’s strategy focuses on serving secondary airports across the US to provide a more convenient and cheaper experience for customers. Hollywood Burbank Airport is the airline’s only current operating base, from where all of its routes originate.

“We’re a low-cost carrier we’ve built to offer low fares but at the same time, we’re going to offer a great level of convenience by utilizing Burbank, which we think is probably the best secondary airport in the country,” Levy said.

But beyond the West Coast, Mountain West, and Southwest, you won’t find Avelo at the local airport and for the most part, the airline doesn’t fly between big cities. A limited route network so early into the airline’s life is not something the airline can be faulted for but it doesn’t hold a candle to the established route networks of Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and Sun Country.

Avelo will soon expand to the East Coast and open a base in New Haven, Connecticut by year’s end. The planned routes from New Haven have not yet been announced but the airline will likely serve popular leisure destinations along the coast.

A unique in-flight service

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo is offering a modified in-flight snack and drink service during the pandemic. The “convenience package,” as the airline calls it, is a sealed package containing a bottle of water, a sanitary wipe, and a package of shortbread cookies.

Airlines are slowly bringing back the in-flight snack and drink service but some ultra-low-cost airlines have been slower than others. Frontier has abandoned the in-flight service altogether during the pandemic, as Insider found on a recent flight from Las Vegas to Seattle, and only sells water bottles on request.

Spirit, for its part, still offers an in-flight service. The difference from Avelo is that nothing comes complimentary and everything from snacks to a cup of water will incur an extra fee.

Avelo’s flights are short enough not to notice the lack of a snack and drink service but it’s a nice touch and makes the flight a little bit more welcoming.

Whether or not the offering stays after the pandemic is over, however, remains to be seen. Ultra-low-cost airlines thrive on selling ancillary items and Avelo won’t likely balk at the chance to do so.

Similar onboard products

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo’s flagship Boeing 737-800 aircraft are packed with 189 seats in an all-economy configuration. The default legroom on the aircraft is 29 inches of pitch, while extra legroom seats are available at a premium.

That can be tight quarters for some but it’s not uncommon for an ultra-low-cost carrier. And in terms of seat pitch, Avelo is actually better than Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant, which offer as little as 28 inches of pitch on some of their planes, according to SeatGuru.

Sun Country’s lowest seat pitch is on par with Avelo at 29 inches, according to SeatGuru.

Avelo’s seats also offer minimal cushioning and don’t feature adjustable headrests. The noticeable difference, however, is that Avelo’s seats recline and have full-size tray tables. Frontier, for its part, is upgrading its aircraft to include full-size tray tables, so the airline will soon be on par with Avelo in that regard.

Avelo doesn’t currently offer in-flight entertainment or WiFi but the latter is slated to come later in 2021. Spirit is also in the process of adding WiFi to its fleet and Sun Country currently offers streaming entertainment.

Older aircraft than some competitors

Avelo Airlines Boeing 737-800
An Avelo Airlines Boeing 737-800.

One area where Avelo falls behind some of its competitors is in the age of its aircraft. Avelo’s planes are second-hand Boeing 737 aircraft with an average age of 14.8 years, according to Planespotters.net, with previous owners including Turkish Airlines and TUI Airlines.

The aircraft cabins have all been retrofitted with brand-new seats and the airline’s paint job gives the appearances of a brand-new plane, but the age does show in the interior. It doesn’t take away too much from the experience but flyers won’t be flying on a brand-new plane.

Frontier and Spirit, however, are known for their young fleet of aircraft. The average age of Frontier’s fleet is 4.2 years while Spirit’s is 6.8, according to Planespotters.net, with next-generation Airbus aircraft including the A320 offering lower costs and quieter cabins.

Avelo’s fleet is more on par with Sun Country and Allegiant, both of which have average fleet ages greater than 14 years.

Which airline should travelers choose?

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo is undoubtedly the better pick for those that want a low-cost experience while still needing to purchase extras, like a seat assignment or baggage allowance. A $19 ticket with a window seat and a checked bag will only cost $34 in the end, which most of Avelo’s competitors can’t say.

Flexibility is also built into Avelo’s tickets as there are no change or cancellation fees.

But Avelo only serves a handful of routes while its competitors fly across the Western Hemisphere. Choosing Avelo isn’t always an option but when it is, it can definitely be the better pick.

Read the original article on Business Insider

JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s new airline is ready for takeoff. Here’s are 7 issues with Breeze, according an expert.

A Breeze Airways plane.
A Breeze Airways plane.

  • Breeze Airways is finally launching flights but not all are sold on its business model.
  • Analyst Henry Harteveldt is concerned about the airline’s route network, high fee structure, and tech-focused model.
  • Breeze seeks to create demand with low-cost leisure routes to underserved cities across the US.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Breeze Airways is finally making its debut on May 27 just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the start of what will likely be a busy summer season.

An initial slate of 39 routes across 16 cities will launch between May 27 and July 29, boasting fares are as low as $39. The hub-skipping routes allow passengers to fly directly to and from leisure destinations without having to change planes.

Most of the routes also don’t feature direct competition, giving Breeze a leg up in drawing passengers and stimulating demand. But not all industry experts were sold on the airline after its launch announcement last week.

Henry Harteveldt, an industry analyst and the cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, has been “disappointed” with what he’s seen so far.

Harteveldt has worked for some of the US’ leading airlines, both current and former, like American Airlines and Trans World Airlines, and also served as the marketing director for Donald Trump’s startup airline, Trump Shuttle.

Here’s why he’s not impressed with Breeze.

Breeze’s route network opens itself up to competition

The Breeze Airways route map.
The Breeze Airways route map.

“The primary concern I have about Breeze is the airports it’s serving,” Harteveldt said. “The cities are all good cities, but the airports have no protection around them.”

Breeze chose the cities of Tampa, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia, and New Orleans as its four main bases, which all see existing service from many of the country’s largest airlines. Harteveldt says that there’s nothing stopping a major player like American or Southwest Airlines from matching some of Breeze’s routes or lowering fares to those cities in order to compete.

“No airline is going to give up a micro point of market share to a competitor, whether it’s an established airline or a startup, without a fight,” Harteveldt said.

Harteveldt compared Breeze’s initial route network to fellow startup Avelo Airlines, which relies on smaller alternative airports as the backbone of its route network. Hollywood Burbank Airport and Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport, for example, are Avelo’s main bases and offer some protection from carriers since there’s a limit to how many flights and airlines the airports can handle.

Breeze spokesperson Gareth Edmonson-Jones says that competing with the airline might be more difficult for the major players. Smaller Embraer E190 and E195 fleet of aircraft are being used initially, with no more than 118 seats on the larger model, allowing Breeze to be more competitive on routes with traditionally low demand.

Breeze wants to be a “seriously nice” airline, but is there such thing?

Breeze Airways
Breeze Airways pilots.

Ultra-low-cost airlines like Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have gained negative reputations for customer service, despite efforts to remedy, and both Breeze and Avelo have worked to promote niceness and friendliness in response. But Harteveldt isn’t convinced that an airline can be “seriously nice,” as Breeze puts it.

“‘Seriously nice’ is a corporate attribute, but it’s not a marketing position,” Harteveldt said. “It’s not something you can hang a brand on.”

Harteveldt points to Breeze’s tech-focused approach that does away with call centers and requires passengers to use a mobile application or computer to communicate with the airline. Companies like Uber and Lyft rely on device-based communications but it’s never been tried before in airlines.

“A concern that I have is that the target Breeze customer may be less likely to own a smartphone, they may be less likely to own tablets, they may be less likely to use technology in their personal and work lives,” Harteveldt said. “A nice airline doesn’t push people to technology.”

One incident involving a Breeze employee can also threaten a “nice” airline’s reputation, Harteveldt says.

“Nonstop routes and low fares are way nicer than flying through hubs at high fares,” Edmondson-Jones said.

A higher fee structure than competitors

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Another reason Harteveldt isn’t sold on Breeze’s seriously nice attitude is because of the airline’s high fee structure.

While baggage fees are lower than most competitors at only $20 for either checked or carry-on luggage, there are caveats. It will cost $50 to pay to check a bag at the airport instead of doing so online, for example, and another $50 if a Breeze airport staff does it.

Printing a boarding pass will also incur a $3 fee that goes up to $9 if an agent has to assist. Seat assignments also start at $10, although families with children under 12 can choose their seats for free.

“Breeze has basically outlined a list of ways where customers are going to think they’re not a very nice airline,” Harteveldt said. “Charge me $3 to print a boarding pass, charge me $50 to check a bag in with an agent. What’s nice about any of that?”

Rival Avelo’s fee structure is more lenient, says Harteveldt, although the two don’t directly compete yet.

Rushing to start before Memorial Day

airport security crowds
A crowded airport.

Breeze started selling tickets for its flights just six days before the first flight was scheduled to depart. The delay was due to the airline not having its air operator’s certificate, or AOC.

“The biggest concern that I had about the launch announcement is the very short window of time the airline has chosen to give itself between announcing that his flights are open for sale and its first flight,” Harteveldt said. “They will give themselves very little time to build up a base of bookings.”

The result may be poorer bookings than if the airline pushed back its launch since travelers are starting to book trips further and further out. Harteveldt suggested instead that the airline delay flights by a few weeks to really get the kinks out before the first passenger is welcomed onboard, as well as build a customer base.

Breeze did delay some route launches until later in the summer, which may give it more time to sell tickets.

Flight attendants that are also college students

flight attendant mask
An airline flight attendant.

Breeze’s plan to use college students enrolled in online courses with Utah Valley University has drawn ire from big labor, and Harteveldt isn’t a fan either.

“If you are a full-time student, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities and if you are a full-time flight attendant, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities,” Harteveldt said. The program, he says, could have unintended consequences like flight attendants that expedite an in-flight service so they can have time to study.

Breeze defended the program in a prior statement to Insider, saying it gives young people an opportunity to lower their education costs. A total of $6,000 is given in tuition reimbursement on top of a monthly $1,200 voucher, among other perks.

“If you’re a fully trained flight attendant, you’re a fully trained flight attendant,” Edmondson-Jones said. “It’s not like if you’re 18 years old, you can’t be a flight attendant.”

Harteveldt also says that Breeze may have missed an opportunity to get great talent from the pool of flight attendants that were furloughed during the pandemic, as rival Avelo did.

Lack of onboard consistency

A Breeze Airways plane.
A Breeze Airways plane.

Breeze will have two types of aircraft flying its first slate of routes, the Embraer E190 and Embraer E195. Both are near identical, with the E195 slightly longer than the E190, but will feature different onboard products.

Standard legroom on the E195 will be 31 inches while the E190 will offer 29.

“The core component of a brand promise is consistency,” Harteveldt said. “From the outset, Breeze is going to be confusing customers which, by the way, is not a nice thing to do.”

Edmondson-Jones responded by saying that the difference in the Embraer aircraft sizes and where the aircraft’s doors are placed determined the legroom.

But the lack of consistency extends outside the aircraft. Breeze will be bringing on the Airbus A220-300 later this year and will operate two distinct fleet types.

All ultra-low-cost airlines in the US stick to one fleet type, whether it be all-Boeing 737 family or all-Airbus A320 family aircraft. A single-fleet operation keeps pilot training and maintenance costs down, as well as maximizes efficiency in a pilot pool.

“Breeze is creating unnecessary complexity for itself by having a more complex fleet,” Harteveldt said.

Tech-focused but not offered onboard WiFi on its jets

Gogo in-flight WiFi
An airline passenger using in-flight WiFi.

Neeleman touted Breeze as a “tech company that also happens to fly airplanes,” but it’s Embraer aircraft are noticeably low-tech. In-flight WiFi, for example, won’t be offered on the aircraft.

“There are a growing number of consumers who expect WiFi to be available everywhere they go, including airplanes,” Harteveldt said. “And if Breeze is hoping to attract millennial and Gen Z consumers as its customers, they’re going to be disappointed that there’s no WiFi onboard on the plane”

Breeze will offer streaming in-flight entertainment including television shows and a map feature. And the airline’s Airbus A220-300 fleet will offer WiFi as the aircraft will be performing longer flights.

But onboard WiFi goes beyond internet browsing and can have some cost-saving benefits for an airline. Harteveldt noted that WiFi can be used for fraud protection if the airline plans to offer in-flight purchasing, and it can be used for “smart aircraft” applications where the airline can monitor the performance of an aircraft’s systems in real-time.

What Harteveldt likes about the airline

Breeze Airways
A Breeze Airways plane.

“I like the fact that we have a new budget airline that’s entering the US that will inject fresh competition that will help compete with price and is hopefully going to provide very exciting jobs for a lot of people,” Harteveldt said. “More airline competition is needed in the US.”

Harteveldt is also a big fan of the Airbus A220-300 aircraft that Breeze will be flying later this year.

“The A220-300, in my opinion, is one of the best narrow-body airplanes that has been introduced because of the enormous utility it offers to its airline operators,” Harteveldt said, noting that the airline should’ve waited to start flights with the A220 over the Embraer jets.

The Airbus A220-300 will allow Breeze to fly to Hawaii, Europe, and even South America if the airline desires.

But in order to be an effective player in the airline industry, it has to survive and thrive, which Harteveldt says isn’t guaranteed, even for David Neeleman.

“Breeze absolutely will be able to attract some customers,” Harteveldt said “The question is, will they be differentiated enough to attract enough customers, and will they attract enough people to be profitable?”

Read the original article on Business Insider

I paid $19 to fly America’s newest airline and had an amazing experience for dirt cheap. Here’s what to know about flying Avelo.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

  • Avelo Airlines, America’s newest ultra-low-cost carrier, offers cheap flights to leisure destinations.
  • It serves smaller airports near big cities that offer easier access but fewer amenities.
  • There are extra fees for checked bags and seat assignments, but not much more.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Avelo Airlines has slowly been introducing itself to the American traveling public as the carrier inaugurates its first 11 routes across the West Coast and Southwest.

And with the airline preparing for an expansion to the East Coast by year’s end, more Americans will soon become acquainted with Avelo.

The carrier’s ultra-low-cost business model puts it on par with Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines, and Frontier Airlines more so than Southwest Airlines or JetBlue Airways. But the airline, headed by Allegiant Air cofounder Andrew Levy, is taking a very different approach.

“Avelo’s purpose is to inspire travel and today we begin that process of making it easy, and convenient, and affordable with everyday low fares, for customers to be able to choose us,” Levy said ahead of the airline’s launch.

Read More: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

I flew on Avelo’s very first flight from Burbank to Santa Rosa in California and paid only $19 for the one-way fare. Naturally, I was expecting a similar experience to Spirit or Frontier but was wrong. What I found instead was a new breed of ultra-low-cost carrier with an incredibly unique offering.

Here’s what you need to know when booking a ticket on Avelo.

The airline won’t be found at larger airports

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Convenience is at the heart of Avelo’s strategy, and that includes using smaller airports like Hollywood Burbank Airport in California, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona, or Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport in Connecticut. These airports are usually easier to get to, have cheaper parking rates, and fewer delays because there are fewer flights.

“We’re going to offer people a terrific deal and hopefully a really easy experience, very convenient, and a nice experience in terms of dealing with great people,” Levy told Insider.

They offer a more bare-bones experience compared to airports like Los Angeles International or John F. Kennedy International. That can be good or bad, depending on traveler preferences.

All three of the aforementioned airports feature single-story terminal buildings with very basic amenities. Passengers board and deplane from aircraft outdoors using ramps from the tarmac.

But smaller airports are often more convenient to access and move through.

Checking a bag is cheaper than carrying one on

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Baggage fees are a top money-maker for airlines, especially ultra-low-cost carriers like Avelo. And while the airline charges for anything larger than a personal item, the fees are surprisingly low.

The fee for the first checked bag, for example, is only $10, while a carry-on bag will incur a standard rate of $35.

Levy says that lowering prices on checked bags will encourage more flyers to do so and free up space in the cabin. The result should be faster boarding and deplaning of the aircraft.

There are also fewer chances for bags to be lost since Avelo only offers direct flights with no connections.

Don’t expect to pay too many fees

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo is taking a different approach from its ultra-low-cost competitors by shunning most fees, including those to change a flight reservation. Most full-service US carriers have eliminated change fees, but they live on with the country’s ultra-low-cost carriers – except Avelo.

Customers will not have to pay a fee to change a flight. They’ll only have to pay the fare difference.

“As far as change fees are concerned, I think that’s one of the biggest pain points in the airline industry,” Levy said. “It’s been that way for years. Airlines for years have used that as a money grab, and it has no relationship to what it truly costs to manage a change.”

Another fee that Avelo is shunning is the call center fee. Customers that call to make a new reservation or make a change won’t be penalized for doing so.

“I want you to be treated kindly, and I want us to be able to make a difference and differentiate ourselves by providing a great experience engaging with customers on the phone,” Levy said.

To pay for a seat or not to pay for a seat

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

I never pay extra for seat assignments when I flew on ultra-low-cost carriers, and I’ve almost always been assigned an aisle or window seat as a result. Case in point: I didn’t pay for a seat on my Avelo flight as was assigned 14F, a window seat towards the front of the plane.

The difference on Avelo, however, is that aisle and window seats start at $5, so the investment is minimal.

Flyers can take a risk by not selecting a seat and may be assigned a good seat. But the option for a $5 window or aisle seat is a good way for flyers to avoid a middle seat without breaking the bank.

The cheapest seats are $4 but since those are for middle seats in the back of the plane. Those are already the worst possible seats on the plane and flyers are better off spending the extra dollar, or taking a risk by not paying for a seat at all.

Snacks and drinks are free

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo doesn’t currently offer a full in-flight snack and drinks service due to the pandemic, but the airline does distribute what it calls “convenience packages.” Inside the sealed package is a water bottle, a package of shortbread cookies, and a Purell wipe.

It’s not much, but Avelo’s flights are typically less than two hours in duration, and outside food can be brought on the plane if it clears TSA screening.

Not all seats are the same, but they do recline

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Seats onboard Avelo’s Boeing 737s vary based on legroom, as is the case on all ultra-low-cost carriers. The cheapest and seats offer 29 inches of legroom while more expensive seats between 31 and 38 inches of legroom.

The price for each seat depends on how much legroom the section it’s in offers. The first row of the cabin offers nearly unlimited legroom and the next comparable seats are the exit rows.

Seats also recline, which is rare for an ultra-low-cost carrier that offers minimal legroom in some sections. Another unique perk is that seats come with a proper tray table, unlike Spirit and Frontier, with ample room to hold drinks and food.

There’s no first-class cabin.

There’s no TSA PreCheck, yet

TSA
A TSA agent waits for passengers to use the TSA PreCheck lane being implemented by the Transportation Security Administration at Miami International Airport on October 4, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

Avelo is not on the Transportation Security Administration’s list of participating airlines for the PreCheck program, meaning all passengers will have to endure traditional security checks. The good news is that Avelo primarily serves smaller airports where lines for security checkpoints are often shorter.

But even then, travelers will still have to take off their shoes and remove laptops from their bags.

Avelo is coming soon to the East Coast

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo just announced expansion plans for the East Coast that will see a base in New Haven, Connecticut at Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport. The first routes have not yet been announced but flights across the East Coast are planned.

Moving into New Haven required a $100 million modernization plan, of which $1.2 million is being funded by Avelo, to extend the airport’s runway and enhance its terminal building. The first flights will depart by year’s end.

Read the original article on Business Insider

America’s newest airline, known for its $19 flights, is spending $1.2 million to bring its cheap trips to the East Coast

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

  • Avelo Airlines is coming to the East Coast with a new base in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Routes have not yet been announced but it’s likely Avelo will offer flights across the East Coast and Southeast.
  • Avelo is spending $1.2 million as part of a larger $100 million investment to modernize the airport.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New Haven, Connecticut, will soon have more going for it than just Yale University and pizza.

Avelo Airlines is choosing the Elm City as its East Coast base with flights from Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport scheduled to start later this year.

“Tweed New Haven has enormous potential, and our first East Coast base is great news for Avelo, New Haven, East Haven and other local communities,” Andrew Levy, Avelo’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

New Haven is sandwiched between Hartford, Connecticut, and New York City, the two closest cities with service from ultra-low-cost carriers. While travelers living anywhere between those two cities were formerly forced to choose, Avelo is giving a third option that will be more convenient to many.

Convenience is key for Avelo, which launched its first flights in April from Hollywood Burbank Airport in California as an alternative to the busier Los Angeles International Airport. Smaller airports boast greater ease of access for travelers and lower operating costs for the airline.

Avelo’s purpose is to inspire travel and today we begin that process of making it easy, and convenient, and affordable with everyday low fares, for customers to be able to choose us,” Levy said when launching the airline’s first flight from Burbank to Santa Rosa, California.

“It is critically important for us to work with partners who share our ideals to maintain the convenience that people love about Tweed New Haven, while respecting the existing character of the local cities and their communities that we serve,” Sean Scanlon, executive director of Tweed New Haven Airport Authority, said in a statement.

Manhattan is also 80 miles away and Avelo’s low fares could attract New Yorkers for which the drive is under two hours, and train service is offered on Amtrak and the Metro-North Railroad. Travelers from Boston and Eastern Massachusetts may also be inclined to make the journey to New Haven, if the price and flights are right.

Avelo’s entrance is a shot in the arm for New Haven’s airport, which only sees scheduled service from American Airlines to Philadelphia on regional aircraft. But New Haven isn’t yet ready for Avelo and so the airline is investing $1.2 million into modernizing the airport with an extended runway and new terminal as part of a larger $100 million investment by Avports.

Read More: Here’s how the airport experience will likely change post-pandemic, according to a CEO that manages 8 of them

Staffing the New Haven base calls for around 100 new employees ranging from pilots and flight attendants to airport support staff. Avelo estimates its presence will create 11,000 jobs in the region.

Boeing 737-700 aircraft will be based in New Haven, the smaller variant of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft with which Avelo debuted operations in April, with Insider onboard the first flight. In line with the airline’s ultra-low-cost business model, the planes are basic with few onboard amenities, though in-flight WiFi may be offered by the time Avelo starts New Haven flights.

No routes have been announced but Avelo’s goal is to focus on leisure destinations and keep flights at around two hours. That puts most of the East Coast and parts of the Southeast including Florida well within range of New Haven.

“Our surprisingly low fares and refreshingly smooth travel experience are sure to be embraced by residents of Southern Connecticut,” said Levy.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on America’s newest airline, Avelo, for $19 and the friendly service more than made up for the complete lack of frills

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

  • Avelo Airlines began flying on April 28 with an inaugural flight from Burbank to Santa Rosa in California.
  • The ultra-low-cost airline is launching 11 routes from Burbank to kick off operations.
  • The one-hour flight was enjoyable due to Avelo’s friendly atmosphere but lacked in amenities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
America has a brand new airline.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo Airlines made its debut on April 28 after breaking from cover earlier in the month. The ultra-low-cost airline aims to take advantage of the boom in leisure travelers that have been eager to fly again.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

A total of 11 routes are being launched from Burbank. The initial slate of destinations includes Santa Rosa, California; Pasco, Washington; Bozeman, Montana; Phoenix, Arizona; Ogden, Utah; Grand Junction, Colorado; Medford, Oregon; Eugene, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; Eureka, California; and Redding, California.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

At the helm of Avelo is Andrew Levy, an experienced aviation veteran with most recent experience as the cofounder of Allegiant Air and former chief financial officer of United Airlines.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Read More: America’s newest airline is launching in April with a focus on leisure routes and fares as low as $19: Meet Avelo Airlines

I flew on Avelo from Burbank to Santa Rosa in the world-famous Sonoma County on the airline’s first day of flights. Here’s what it was like.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Arriving at Avelo’s new home base at Hollywood Burbank Airport just north of Los Angeles, I felt transported back in time. The single-level terminal is reminiscent of the early days of aviation.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Being able to use more convenient airports like Burbank is a big draw for customers to Avelo. Only a handful of airlines serve this airport, even though it boasts an ease of access that wildly surpasses Los Angeles International.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

“We’re built to offer low fares, but at the same time we’re going to offer a great level of convenience by utilizing Burbank, which we think is probably the best secondary airport in the country,” Levy told Insider in a prior interview.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo’s ticketing counter was not hard to find in the small terminal and its airport staff was out in force for the inaugural flight. Boarding passes can’t be printed from self-serve kiosks as Avelo doesn’t yet have that functionality.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

I had checked in the night before and could have printed a boarding pass but I still needed to check my bag. Luckily, there’s was no line as we were the first and only flight of the day.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

As was the case for most passengers, I only paid $19 for the ticket. But all I got for $19 was the ticket as bags and reserved seat assignments did not come included.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo is an ultra-low-cost so bringing any bag larger than a backpack will incur a fee. Carry-ons cost $35 but checked bags only cost $10, some of the cheapest pricing in the industry for bags meant to encourage more checked bags.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

But my total ticket price came out to only $29 as I checked my bag for $10.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Ticket in hand, I headed to the gate for the first departure. Any gate is a short walk when departing from Burbank.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Two of Avelo’s flagship aircraft, the Boeing 737-800, were parked at the terminal. Avelo currently has plans for six aircraft and 400 crew members by the end of 2021.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

The paint job is an eye-catching purple, white, and yellow that made these 15-year-old aircraft look brand new.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo is the only airline flying daily non-stop flights between Burbank and California Wine Country. That is, until June 1 when Alaska Airlines starts flights on the same route.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Read More: American and Alaska are making moves to compete with America’s newest airline before its first flight has even taken off

Flights to Santa Rosa depart in the morning and return in the late afternoon, enough time for a Sonoma County wine tasting if Southern Californians want to take a cheap day trip up north.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

This was the first flight of a brand new airline so inaugural festivities were in order. “Avelo’s purpose is to inspire travel and today we begin that process of making it easy, and convenient, and affordable with everyday low fares, for customers to be able to choose us,” Levy said.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

And with the cutting of the ribbon, it was time for boarding to begin.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo boards in groups, with six in total, and hasn’t adopted the pandemic practice of back-to-front boarding. The first three groups are priority boarding and the final three are general boarding.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

One of the perks of flying into and out of Burbank airport is ramps are used instead of jetways. It allows for great views of the aircraft.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Parked next to our plane was a nearly-identical backup aircraft, ready for just in case something went wrong.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Levy was stationed at the foot of the ramp to personally welcome each flyer on board.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Many onboard were aviation enthusiasts excited to make history by flying on a brand new airline.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo’s Boeing 737 aircraft seats a whopping 189 passengers in an all-economy configuration. Seat assignments start at only $4 but legroom depends on seat location and greater legroom seats can be bought for a premium.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Seats closest to the front offer the most legroom, between 31 and 38 inches, and they’ll usually cost upwards of $20 to reserve.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Seats towards the back only feature 29 inches of pitch, below average for full-service US airlines but common among ultra-low-cost carriers. But extra legroom or not, all seats are “slimline” with minimal padding and few amenities of which to speak.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Adjustable headrests, for example, are non-existent.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Seats do have, however, a decent size tray table with a cup holder and most do recline.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Those wanting more room to stretch out should book the exit rows in rows 20 and 21, or the first row of seats.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

A mere 29 inches of pitch might not bode well for taller flyers, as aviation’s Johnny Jet found from his middle seat in row 15, but this flight was only around an hour where it was bearable for those aboard.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

I didn’t choose a seat assignment at booking to save money and was auto-assigned a window seat in row 14 at check-in. It offered the standard 29 inches of pitch but I was just glad I wasn’t given a middle seat.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Seat-backs are noticeable bare with only safety cards in the pockets. There are no seat-back screens or any in-flight entertainment, for that matter, though WiFi is on the way, Levy told Insider in a prior interview.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Levy welcomed us aboard the historic first flight of his airline as we prepared to depart for Santa Rosa. The pandemic luckily hadn’t killed the airline but instead bolstered its proposition of cheap flights to travel-hungry Americans.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Read More: Flights are filling up as the pandemic enters its second year — and the crowded flights are only going to get worse

Soon enough, we were ready to head out and pushed back earlier than scheduled.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Levy sat in the very front row for the flight.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

We then blasted out of Burbank on Runway 15, the mighty Boeing 737 handling the short runway well and quickly turned to the north.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

We said goodbye to Burbank airport, to where this aircraft and many of its passengers would return later in the day.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

The views of San Fernando Valley provided the only in-flight entertainment for many as we turned to follow the coast to Santa Rosa.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Flight attendants, smiling from ear-to-ear, then began the in-flight service. Ultra-low-cost airlines aren’t typically known for free snacks and drinks but Avelo’s initial pandemic offering includes what it calls a “convenience package.”

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Inside the complimentary kits I found a bottle of water, a package of shortbread cookies, and a Purell wipe. It wasn’t much but anything is better than nothing and the flight was only an hour long.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

And shortly after, flight attendants passed around sparkling cider for an in-flight toast to Avelo.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Finding the right people to work as flight attendants and pilots was of high importance to Avelo in order to stand out among ultra-low-cost airlines.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

And it showed, all of Avelo’s in-flight crew were happy, smiling, and genuinely friendly.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

After a short speech by Levy, passengers raised their glasses to toast the airline.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

The rest of the flight continued smoothly as we sailed over California. So far, the consensus was that the aircraft wasn’t bad for an hour flight.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

New York to Los Angeles, as Spirit Airlines is planning to do in June, might be a stretch considering the lack of amenities and legroom. But Avelo is looking for a route network where flights are less than two hours.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Read More: Spirit is launching summer flights between LaGuardia Airport and Los Angeles, but a decades-old rule is limiting them to 1 day per week

It wasn’t before long before it was time to descend into Santa Rosa, and those on the left side of the aircraft facing forward were greeted to the best view of the Bay Area. San Francisco International Airport was the first landmark…

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Followed by San Francisco itself.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

California Wine Country soon came into view as we gradually descended into Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Like Burbank, only a handful of airlines serve Santa Rosa. And those that do only fly regional aircraft like the Embraer E175 and Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo’s arrival was welcomed by the county, especially because it would bring more tourists to the region on the heels of the pandemic.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

As the seatbelt sign turned off, Levy was the first to rise. The first passenger flight of his new airline was complete, and it was a success.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Avelo touched down in Santa Rosa on time and with happy passengers.

Flying on Avelo Airlines
Flying on the first flight of Avelo Airlines.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a startup boom in the airline industry

Avelo Airlines Boeing 737-800
Avelo Airlines is one of more than 90 carriers that plan to begin service this year.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on airlines.
  • But some see an opportunity to buy discounted aircraft or add new routes.
  • More than 90 new airlines plan to debut before the end of 2021.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit airlines hard. Airline revenue collapsed last year, and more than 40 airlines have paused operations or shut down since the beginning of 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from Cirium.

Many airlines have responded by laying off workers and cutting flights, but as The Journal reported on Friday, some carriers have sensed an opportunity in the downsizing and cost-cutting of their competitors.

Citing data from Avolon Holdings, which leases aircraft, The Journal reported that over 90 new airlines are set to debut before the end of 2021. Those startups will take off from six continents.

Some of those companies are using higher rates of availability at airports to fill gaps in the offerings of established airlines. Others have been able to purchase assets at a discount.

Andrew Levy, the founder of Avelo Airlines, told The Journal he was able to buy seats at reduced prices because the seats had originally been ordered by another airline that decided not to buy them in 2020. Levy also told The Journal he believed the reduced demand for travel during the pandemic made it easier for his airline to find availability at its hub, Hollywood Burbank Airport. Avelo, which has several destinations in the western US, is selling customers on low fares and service from smaller airports, a combination the airline says will make air travel more convenient and enjoyable.

Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO of the new Norwegian airline Norse Atlantic Airways, told The Journal he was able to buy aircraft once used by Norwegian Air Shuttle, which went bankrupt in 2020, for “historically low” prices. Norse is focusing on inexpensive international flights and plans to debut in December.

“We will focus only on low cost, long-haul business. And to my knowledge we will be the only company of size that will do so,” Larsen told The Journal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also created opportunities for established airlines. Rex Airlines CEO John Sharp told The Journal that his airline has found new opportunities to add routes in large cities. The company also received a steep discount, over 50%, on Boeing 747s previously used by Virgin Australia and found it easier to secure openings at airports than it would have if the demand for air-travel was at pre-pandemic levels, Sharp said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

America’s newest airline is launching in April with a focus on leisure routes and fares as low as $19: Meet Avelo Airlines

Avelo Airlines
A rendering of an Avelo Airlines Boeing 737-800.

  • Avelo Airlines just broke cover and plans to start flights on April 28 from Burbank, California.
  • Andrew Levy, former president of Allegiant Air, is at the helm with a focus on cheap flights and friendly service.
  • A total of 11 routes have already been announced to popular destinations across the American West.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s lights, cameras, action for America’s newest airline that’s planning its Hollywood debut later this month.

Avelo Airlines plans to launch flights on April 28 from Hollywood Burbank Airport near Los Angeles, giving travelers yet another option when planning pandemic getaways. The new ultra-low-cost airline is focused on cheap leisure flights and will fly to popular destinations in the American West from before expanding across the country.

“Avelo is a different and better kind of airline, built from scratch to offer an affordable, convenient and caring travel experience,” chief executive Andrew Levy said in a press release.

The initial slate of 11 routes from Burbank include flights to:

  • Santa Rosa, California from April 28;
  • Pasco, Washington from April 29;
  • Bozeman, Montana from April 30;
  • Phoenix, Arizona from May 3;
  • Ogden, Utah from May 4;
  • Grand Junction,
  • Colorado from May 9; Medford,
  • Oregon from May 9;
  • Eugene, Oregon from May 12;
  • Bend, Oregon from May 13;
  • Eureka, California from May 19; and
  • Redding, California from May 20.

Burbank, just north of downtown Los Angeles, offers a convenient alternative to Los Angeles International Airport that the company hopes will help spur bookings and encourage flyers to travel.

“A big part of our business model is not just offering every day, great fares,” Levy told Insider. “We’re a low-cost carrier. We’re built to offer low fares, but at the same time we’re going to offer a great level of convenience by utilizing Burbank, which we think is probably the best secondary airport in the country.”

An airport stuck in time, the one-story terminal building at Burbank resembles a scene from the 1950s. Passengers are required to board aircraft directly from the tarmac since there are no jetways. .

The Boeing 737-800, a tried and true narrow-body aircraft that can seat 189 people in the airline’s all-economy configuration, will be Avelo’s flagship aircraft. The plane is a staple of other well-known low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, and Ryanair thanks to its low operating costs and high availability on the market.

In true ultra-low-cost fashion, flyers won’t find seat-back entertainment screens – though WiFi may be coming within the next year. Avelo says it’s working with potential suppliers for the service.

In-flight snacks and drinks service won’t be offered in the airline’s initial run, either, due to the pandemic. Customers will instead receive a “convenience package” with hand sanitizer, a bottle of water, and a small snack.

The bulk of the aircraft’s seating are “slimline” seats, the term for thinner seats on airplanes, with only 29 inches of pitch across the 129 seats. The remaining 60 seats, however, will range in pitch from 31 to 38 inches, and reserving one will cost at least $18.

Fares as low as $19 are being offered on all of the airline’s initial routes from April into mid-June for some destinations, except for flights around Memorial Day Weekend. They’re just introductory fares but low ticket prices are part of Avelo’s overall strategy to stimulate demand in underserved markets and become a go-to for cheap flights.

“Quite honestly, I’d love to be able to do, over many years, what Southwest has done,” Levy said. “Where when people hear ‘Avelo,’ they just associate us with low fares.”

Offering low fares, however, means that Avelo will have to fill its planes as close to the brim as possible in order to turn a profit. “We’re looking to sell the flights very full, we’re defining full as 80-85%,” Levy said.

And unlike competitors, Avelo doesn’t have a robust system of extra fees to fall back on. Advanced seat assignments start at $5 and checking a bag will only cost $10, with the latter meant to open more space in the cabin during boarding and deplaning. There’s also no fee to make a flight change or make a reservation over the phone.

These extra charges, known as ancillary fees, have become the backbone of ultra-low-cost airlines’ strategy as they don’t incur taxes.

Keeping calm during a crippling pandemic for airlines

Avelo, one of two low-cost airlines launching operations during the pandemic, has the benefit of an experienced founder. Levy formerly served as the co-founder and president of Allegiant Air and chief financial officer of United Airlines.

“I think probably during the pandemic, maybe the hardest thing was just to keep everybody calm and to recognize that there’s a lot of good that’s going to come from the end of the business cycle,” Levy said.

The industry veteran was actually optimistic instead of pessimistic when the pandemic hit the US in March 2020. Leveling the playing field for airlines made it easier for a new entrant to compete with established players.

Congress ultimately saved many airlines from possible bankruptcy, but the pandemic’s outcome still favors leisure airlines like Avelo, analysts say. More Americans are willing to get back in the air after an extended pandemic and ultra-low-cost airlines are allowing them to do it without breaking the bank.

Read More: Spirit Airlines’ low-cost model puts it in the perfect spot to be the big winner of the pandemic, a Deutsche Bank analyst says

“I think all of our investors realize that this will have been a pretty strong opportunity for us to get into markets we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get into, take advantage of materially lower costs for things like airplanes, office leases, IT contracts, parts agreements, etc.,” Levy said.

Avelo currently has three planes and more than 200 crew members but plans to have six Boeing 737s and 400 crew members by the end of the year.

Read the original article on Business Insider