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On April 28, 2020 — during the height of the first COVID-19 surge — the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened fewer than 120,000 passengers in the United States, compared to more than 2,256,000 in 2019.
On that same day this year, over 1,184,000 were screened. Among them were elated travelers at Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) in California, where Avelo Airlines, the United States’ first new airline in 15 years, inaugurated service to Santa Rosa (STS) in California’s wine country.
By late May, Avelo will provide nonstop service between its home base at Burbank and 11 destinations across the Western U.S., including Arcata-Eureka, Redding and Santa Rosa, Calif.; Bend-Redmond, Eugene and Medford, Ore.; Bozeman, Mont.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Pasco, Wash.; Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.; and Ogden-Salt Lake City, Utah. It operates three fuel-efficient, 189-seat Boeing 737-800s.
TravelAge West caught up with Andrew Levy, founder, chairman and CEO of Avelo Airlines, to learn a little more about the company and why it might be a good choice for your clients’ next vacation.
Why should travelers fly Avelo? Avelo is a different and better kind of airline, built from scratch to offer an affordable, more efficient and caring travel experience — and that’s worth something to a large population of the traveling public. We save our customers time and money. Introductory one-way fares starting at $19 are a great reason to try us.
What inspired the launch of Avelo? Consolidation over the last two decades did what it intended to do — drive up fares and reduce choice. This has created massive opportunity for more competition in the U.S. airline marketplace. Avelo was founded to “Inspire Travel,” and that starts with returning choice and low fares to customers.
Why did you choose Hollywood Burbank Airport as your Los Angeles option?Customers love smaller airports, and this one’s convenience to Greater Los Angeles, customer-friendly compact size and lower costs were all important considerations. For a lot of people visiting the Los Angeles area, it’s a great jumping-off point with convenient, stress-free access to many attractions within Southern California.
What are your plans for expansion?If Burbank performs well, we may add capacity, but right now, we’re focused on establishing an exceptional operation and a smooth customer experience. Over time, we will open new bases in other major markets.
COVID-19 severely impacted travel, but what opportunities did it create for you?As a domestic leisure airline, we’re starting at a great time, and the travel industry overall is optimistic about the return of leisure travel.
We expect more people will travel this summer, and those trips will largely be domestic leisure travel. After over a year at home, people are ready to reconnect with family and friends and explore new places. We are making that possible by providing leisure travelers with choice, convenience and surprisingly low fares.
The pandemic grounded aircraft and decreased service, which ultimately opened airport capacity, and we were able to acquire high-quality, efficient aircraft at a great price. As a result of furloughs and layoffs, qualified people are eager to get back to work, especially in the devastated hospitality and service sectors. We’ve built an extremely talented and accomplished Avelo team, and we look forward to serving our future customers.
After over a year at home, people are ready to reconnect with family and friends and explore new places.
Airlines like Spirit (in the U.S.) and Ryan Air (abroad) are known for charging additional fees, and Avelo is doing so, as well. Why? As a smaller, new airline, our cost structures are inherently lower, and we’re able to pass those savings on to our customers. Our low everyday fares include no change fees or call center fees for customers who choose to make reservations by phone, and our unbundled travel-enhancing options are available at industry-low prices that give customers the flexibility to pay for what they value, whether that’s priority boarding at $10, a checked bag for $10 or pre-reserved window or aisle seats starting at $5.
What have you learned about this business from other discount airlines, past and present?After nearly 14 years at Allegiant, in addition to two years at United, there’s a lot to consider. But we’re creating our unique market and path forward — we don’t want to be everything to everyone. Like many low-cost carriers, our business model hinges on offering reliable, short-haul service, but our strategy is a bit different.
In addition to building brand reputation and recognition, which impacts both short- and long-term success, it’s important that we run Avelo as an extremely reliable and exceptional airline. Our Soul of Service — our customer-centric culture and approach to delivering a smooth and pleasant travel experience — plays a role in that. While this isn’t unprecedented, it is unique and will help set us apart from others.
How do you plan to continue to stand out in the crowd?The $19 fare generated headlines, captured customer attention and drove demand, but the Avelo experience is how we will differentiate ourselves long-term.
How can travel advisors work with you?We’d love for travel advisors to book Avelo through our website. We want to work directly with our customers, whether that’s a direct customer or someone they’ve entrusted to book their travel.
The DetailsAvelo Airlineswww.aveloair.com