Avelo Airlines made it official.
At a celebration held on Thursday morning, the airline announced service to San Juan, Puerto Rico in what was described as one of the worst-kept secrets regarding flight service.
The event at Wilmington Airport featured Puerto Rican food and non-alcoholic tropical beverages as well as a band, drummer, dancers, and members of the Puerto Rican and Hispanic communities.
Avelo will make twice-a-week nonstop flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays, beginning on Nov.15. Avelo will also add Sarasota, FL to its Wilmington schedule with twice-weekly service, beginning Nov. 2 on Thursdays and Sundays.
The announcement came as Avelo announced it had flown more than 125,000 passengers since launching service from ILG in February, according to Vicky Stennes, people and customer service head for Avelo.
That beats out the flurry of passenger traffic after Frontier Airlines launched flights from ILG to several cities nearly a decade ago. That expansion ended abruptly with a sharp reduction in flights to Florida and the discount carrier’s eventual departure. It was followed by a second attempt at Orlando service that ended last year.
Avelo, by contrast, started with five destinations and has continued to add cities from the Delaware airport. It has two 189-passenger Boeing 737-800 jets based at ILG.
Gov. John Carney said word-of-mouth praise for the airline’s service has contributed to its success, citing the example of his hairdresser praising her flight.
Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy passed along the following statement: “Since taking flight in February, more than 125,000 Customers have discovered the magical convenience, reliability and affordability of flying Avelo at Greater Philly’s most travel-friendly airport — Wilmington Airport. Today’s historic service expansion is the latest example of the smooth and seamless travel experience Avelo is bringing to the four-state Delaware Valley region. With the second-largest Puerto Rican community in the U.S., Avelo is making it easier than ever for friends and family to reconnect on both ends of this exciting new Caribbean route. And with winter right around the corner, San Juan and Sarasota are the latest examples of how Avelo is inspiring travel across the region with an irresistible mix of popular destinations to choose from.”
Earlier, Avelo launched flights from New Haven. Connecticut also has a large population with Puerto Rican roots.
Delaware River and Bay Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Cook said, “Today marks another milestone event for Wilmington Airport – ILG. With Avelo’s addition of San Juan, Puerto Rico to its roster of destinations, our airport – for the first time in its history – will have nonstop service to a destination beyond the continental United States. And, with Sarasota-Bradenton International also on the schedule, ILG now offers commercial air service to a record 15 great destinations.”
Nuestras Raíces of Delaware, Philadelphia and South Jersey Vice President India Colon-Diaz said, “Nuestras Raices is thrilled to see the fastest emerging growth ever seen in local travel of Avelo Airlines at the Wilmington Airport. We are committed to their vision while partnering to support the economic landscape, offering unparalleled connectivity to Delaware Valley’s multicultural and family travelers alike. We look forward to this promising collaboration and the positive impact it will have on the region.”
Avelo serves 47 destinations spanning 25 states and Puerto Rico. At least one airport on every Avelo flight is a small hometown airport like Wilmington. The small city nonstop-only strategy reduces delays.
Avelo is expected to fly from Wilmington to seven Florida destinations this winter. The Wilmington Airport serves 15 nonstop destinations, with several seasonal routes to be paused this fall.
American, Frontier, and Spirit Airlines offer nonstop flights from Philadelphia International Airport to San Juan.