Avelo Airlines takes off from Tweed New Haven in Orlando

NEW HAVEN – Tweed New Haven Regional Airport was back in the air on Wednesday, with the first Avelo Airlines flight to Orlando taking off at 11 a.m., just after a series of speeches from city, state, business and airline officials and a salute or two.

The flight marked the start of a new era, with startup Avelo planning to roll out a service to six cities in the days and weeks to come – with a seventh on the way.

Avelo’s arrival at Tweed marks the largest expansion of service at the airport in more than 30 years, the airline said.

Avelo President and CEO Andrew Levy said in response to questions that the seventh route Avelo planned to announce soon “is not in Florida” and “it will not be in the Midwest. “.

One of Avelo’s new employees, Kim Howard, is a former nurse who lives 30 seconds from Tweed.

“It’s a lifelong dream to be a flight attendant,” said Howard, who was an LPN for 18 years before being hired by Avelo a month ago. “I think it’s really great that (Avelo) came to Tweed.”

A lot of people “couldn’t travel” before because it was too expensive, she said.

Also in attendance were Governor Ned Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz. Lamont praised Tweed New Haven Airport Authority Executive Director Sean Scanlon for making the deal with Avelo and the upcoming expansion of Tweed.

“We’ve been working on this for many years and he said ‘yes,’ Lamont said. “Regional airports are a big part of our economic future. … This is a big plus for us.

“I really think this area of ​​Greater New Haven is an economic hub, a transportation hub, for Connecticut,” he said.

Scanlon said: “I am excited – beyond the excitement – to be here today for what is the first day of the new HVN.”

“Since I started” as Executive Director of Tweed, “I have had one goal: to expand air service. Tweed, Avports and Avelo “have hired over 100 local people” and it’s exciting “to finally see this airport reach its potential.

Mayor Justin Elicker said the airport already looks different. “It’s like we’re going in the direction of” a better airport.

Bysiewicz called it “a great day to celebrate Tweed’s biggest expansion in over three decades.… It’s a great day for our economy… and a great day for consumers.

She said her 100-year-old aunt, who lives outside of Palm Beach, Florida, “can’t wait to come home for Christmas.”

The refurbished Boeing Next Generation 737 used for the maiden flight has comfortable blue leather seats and blue carpet. The only thing missing on the first day was Wi-Fi.

On board the flight to Orlando were a mix of VIPs – including Levy – the media and a few regular passengers.

“Today’s maiden flight is a milestone for Avelo, HVN and Southern Connecticut,” said Levy. “A new era of convenient and affordable air travel for the region is taking off today. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome our new customers aboard today’s inaugural flight to Orlando, as well as the five other sunny Florida destinations that we will begin flying to in the days and weeks to come.

“We are grateful for the warm welcome Avelo receives from the surrounding communities,” said Levy. “I would also like to express my immense gratitude to my fellow Avelo crew members for making today a reality and to our partners at HVN and Avports for sharing our vision of the extraordinary potential of this airport.

For about half an hour on the ground in Orlando before boarding the very first Avelo flight from Orland to New Haven, Levy, Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and Victoria Jaramillo, Senior Director of Marketing and development of air services, held a second groundbreaking ceremony.

Brown said the new Avelo service “opens up southern Connecticut, but it’s also easy access from New York … I think what makes this most important is that you have a way inexpensive to fly from New York and southern Connecticut “to Orlando.

Introductory one-way fares between New Haven and Orlando starting at $ 49 are available at www.aveloair.com. Similar rates are available for Avelo’s other five Florida destinations.

Other cities that Avelo has announced it will serve from New Haven, its first base on the east coast, include Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Palm Beach and Sarasota-Bradenton. Flights to Fort Lauderdale begin Friday, flights to Tampa begin Monday, and flights to Fort Myers begin November 11.

Service to Palm Beach begins December 16, and flights to Sarasota-Bradenton begin January 13. Tickets for all routes are on sale at www.aveloair.com.

“We already know at least number 7, but we haven’t announced it because it would require the number 4 plane,” and Avelo doesn’t yet know when that plane will arrive, Levy said. The third plane to serve Tweed is expected in about three weeks, he said.

“The fourth aircraft will allow us to add services to the first six markets, as well as a seventh,” said Levy.

“I couldn’t be more optimistic about our outlook here,” Levy said. Ticket sales are “on plan or maybe even better than expected,” he said. “I really accelerated, especially in the last four weeks. Obviously, this is a good time of year to sell flights to Florida.

Construction to prepare Tweed’s existing facilities on the New Haven side of the airport for Avelo is still underway, but “I think it’s going to be awesome,” Levy said.

In three or four weeks it will be done, said Levy.

“It’s a really nice setup here” and “it’s really exciting to see it all come together,” he said.

Avelo, headquartered in Houston, is a new low cost airline created out of what was originally Casino Express Airlines and later Xtra Airways.

It began flying as Avelo on April 28, 2021, making it the first new scheduled US airline in nearly 15 years, and currently serving 11 cities in the west from its initial base in Hollywood Burbank Airport in Los Angeles. In recent months, it has also announced flights to four destinations from Las Vegas, including Santa Rosa, California, Fort Collins, Colorado, Eureka, California, and Redding, California.

The “vast majority” of passengers on the flight were paying between $ 59 and $ 79 one-way for their tickets, Avelo spokesman Jim Olson said.

To support its new service, Avelo has hired “just over 85 people so far in New Haven,” Olson said. The goal is to employ more than 100 people at Tweed by the start of next year, he said.

The start of Avelo service is good news for Tweed, which saw American Airlines cease long-standing American Eagle service between Tweed and Philadelphia in late September.

Tweed also recently announced the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority’s approval of a new food and beverage concession agreement Thursday with G Cafe.

The G Cafe, which bakes fresh old-world breads and runs cafes / cafes in downtown New Haven and Branford, will give Tweed its first vending machine dealership in years and its first full-fledged restaurant in years. decades.

Depending on the agreement, the cafe will serve freshly ground coffee, espresso, bottled juices, sodas and water, as well as fresh bread and bagels, pastries, hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads and desserts. It will also have a “Grab-N-Go” section which will be open from 6 am or at least 90 minutes before the first scheduled commercial departure until 30 minutes after the last scheduled departure of the day.

Avelo is investing $ 1.2 million to help modernize and modernize facilities and operations as part of a global $ 100 million project at Tweed, which will include a new terminal and an extended runway. The expansion, which was made possible by a 43-year lease extension that the council of aldermen recently granted permission, will be funded by airport operator Avports.

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