Americans are traveling in the greatest numbers in more than a year, and soon they will have two new leisure-oriented airlines to consider for those trips, one of which will provide daily service from Ogden to the Los Angeles area.
Avelo Airlines said Thursday that it will begin flying later this month to 11 destinations from Burbank, California. The startup plans to add other routes in the West as soon as it grows its fleet of three Boeing 737.
Avelo was started by a longtime airline executive who thinks there is room for another low-fare carrier besides the several budget airlines already in the market.
“There are too few seats in the United States being offered by low-cost carriers. That’s why we think the opportunity is huge,” said Avelo Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy. “Customers want a really inexpensive way to get from Point A to Point B.”
Avelo’s strategy is straight out of the low-cost-carrier playbook first written by Southwest Airlines in the 1970s and copied by others, including Allegiant. Part of that strategy involves sticking to secondary airports that have lower costs and less congestion — planes land, take on new passengers, and take off quickly, spending more time in the air and less on the ground.
“It’s not that it hasn’t been done before, it’s just that it hasn’t been done in a really long time — staying away from the really big airports wherever it is possible,” Levy says.
One of Avelo’s first destinations, Ogden, Utah, “is a nice, convenient, easy-to-navigate airport,” he says. “There are a lot of those around the country that have been unserved or at least underserved. Those are the markets we’re going to target.”
Allegiant is the only airline currently flying to Ogden, and only from Phoenix, while nearly a dozen carriers compete at nearby Salt Lake City.
According to the booking feature on its website, Avelo’s first flight on the Ogden route is slated for Tuesday, May 4, leaving Burbank at 11:10 a.m. Pacific time and arriving in Ogden at 2 p.m. Mountain time. A return flight to Burbank that same day is scheduled to depart from Ogden at 2:40 p.m. local time.
After the initial flight, the airline has one Ogden flight scheduled each way at those same times, every day of the week except Sunday. The route is currently priced at $19 each way, with fares increasing to $24 on certain days beginning May 27.
In addition to Ogden, Avelo passengers will be able to fly from Burbank to Santa Rosa, Redding and McKinleyville in California; Medford, Eugene and Bend in Oregon; Pasco, Washington; Bozeman, Montana; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Mesa, Arizona, with fares varying by destination.
Avelo launched with $19 promotional fares. Like other budget airlines, Avelo will charge extra for many options, including an assigned seat and carry-on bags that go in the overhead bins. Add-on fees include $10 for the first checked bag, $35 for an overhead carry-on bag, $10 for priority boarding, and window or aisle seat options starting at $5.
The airline will fly 189-seat Boeing 737-800 planes, which are plentiful and, Levy says, a bargain on the used-plane market. The planes won’t have on-board internet access, at least not this year.
Waiting in the wings is Breeze Airways, the latest creation of David Neeleman, who helped start Canada’s WestJet before founding JetBlue Airways and the Brazilian airline Azul.
The planning for both airlines started before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but they are starting up just as long-homebound Americans look to break out and travel like it’s 2019 again. More than 1 million Americans have been flying each day for about a month now, and people who kept their jobs through the pandemic have saved more, which they could tap for trips.
The last new U.S. airline was Virgin America, which began flying in 2007 and disappeared after Alaska Airlines bought it in 2016.
Breeze hasn’t detailed where it will begin operations, although the airline has hinted it will be in the Southeast, including Florida, a popular destination for leisure travelers.