Updated Avelo notes: ILG passenger count nears 300,000 with carrier leaving Las Vegas crew base for wine country

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On Thursday, Avelo and Wilmington Airport manager The Delaware River and Bay Authority will mark the first anniversary of the airline’s first flight from Wilmington.

We also learned from the DRBA that during the past year, Avelo flew to as many as 15 nonstop destinations and accounted for 261,415 passengers passing through the airport. A total of 131,959 passengers boarded flights and 129,456 deplaned at the northern Delaware Airport in 2023.

Avelo currently serves nine destinations, mainly in Florida, from Wilmington.

As Avelo moves into its second year of operation, The DRBA is planning upgrades to the Wilmington Airport’s aging terminal while adding more close-in parking by razing a former motel and restaurant. Demo work got underway this week.

The terminal is light on amenities with no restaurant and a boarding area on the tight side.

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The DRBA is taking a measured approach regarding airport upgrades, given the history of airline service in Wilmington.

Still, millions of dollars of improvements have been made dating back to the debut and rapid departure of Frontier Airlines service nearly a decade ago, with more projects on the way depending in part on Avelo’s flight schedule in coming months and years.

And don’t rule out another airline coming into the airport as improvements continue. The Avelo passenger numbers out of Wilmington will likely attract some attention from airlines looking to get a bigger foothold in the Delaware Valley market.

Avelo adds month to booking schedule

Also this week, Avelo added another month to its schedule, with flights on its Wilmington schedule running through June 11 to nine destinations. Prospects are dimming for flights to return to the destinations that were on the schedule last year.

The best deal out of Wilmington continues to be San Juan, Puerto Rico. For a few hundred dollars you can escape to the sunny island.

Leaving Las Vegas

Out West, Avelo is shifting a crew base to a destination more like Wilmington and leaving Sin City as an operating base.

The Ishrion site reported that Avelo will close its base in Las Vegas and set up a base similar to the one in Delaware at Santa Rosa.

The crew base in the Napa Valley wine country base fits in with the airline’s strategy of serving leisure destinations from small airports. If Wilmington is any indication, the base will employ about 100 at the airport on the edge of the San Francisco area.

 How that affects the number of flights into Vegas remains to be seen. The carrier has seen success in flying passengers to Vegas and other destinations from Santa Rosa and Burbank.

With two jets at the airport – named after the late Charles Shultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, – the airline is poised to add more destinations from wine country. Avelo has also based two jets and upwards of 100 employees at ILG.

A similar strategy could take place in Florida, if Avelo shifts its base from busy Orlando to Lakeland. Avelo is expected launch flights from the airport between Orlando and Tampa in late spring.

Flights to the big game

Avelo announced this week will add extra West Coast flights to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas from Burbank and Santa Rosa.

The area around the airport north of San Francisco has a large number of 49ers fans.

Michigan-Caribbean venture with Apple Vacations

In the upper Midwest, Avelo has teamed up with Apple Vacations to offer its first international flights.

Flights started in late January from Lansing’s Capital Region International Airport in Michigan.

The alliance will offer nonstops to Cancun, three times a week, weekly service to Montego Bay and twice a week nonstops to Punta Canta in the Dominican Republic. Service ends in early April.

Avelo’s service outside the continental U.S. had been limited to flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Wilmington Airport and New Haven.

“These three tropical destinations Avelo will operate for Apple Vacations from Lansing are the perfect debut of Avelo’s international service. We look forward to offering the same reliable and friendly experience to Apple Vacations’ Customers that we’ve been providing Avelo’s Capital Region Customers since we took flight at LAN 15 months ago,” said Avelo founder and CEO Andrew Levy.

During the past 15 months, Avelo service from the Michigan capital have been limited to twice-weekly service to Orlando.

Avelo noted that despite changeable weather in both Michigan and Florida, none of the more than 300 flights from Lansing were canceled.

New Burbank terminal

Finally, ground was recently broken for a new terminal at Hollywood-Burbank Airport, one of Avelo’s major bases. The project’s price tag is $1.2 billion and moves the terminal further away from runways, something federal regulators wanted to see.

A replacement of the terminal was long overdue as anyone who has flown into the airport will tell you. The airport handles a surprisngly large number of flights, mainly to western destinations.

Avelo has seen sizable growth at Burbank, a convenient alternative to bustling LA International Airport.

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