Travel notes: Avelo CEO sees no new routes out of Wilmington in ’23; Frontier takes on the big guys

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 28: Avelo Airlines takes off with first flight between Burbank and Santa Rosa at Hollywood Burbank Airport on April 28, 2021 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Avelo Air)

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer (limited story views), Avelo CEO Andrew Levy indicated that no new routes out of the Wilmington Airport (ILG are planned for this year.

The airline has also reduced its base here to one jet as it pared down routes out of ILG from as many as 15 to nine. Twice-weekly flights last summer. to Nashville, Savannah, and Greenville, SC, have been removed from the booking site. Employment is 40, compared to 90 or so reported last year.

Avelo saw stronger-than-expected traffic out of Wilmington during its first year, and Levy suggested the carrier may have overshot the runway on some routes. He pointed to the announcement and accompanying billboards on ILG flights to Melbourne, FL. After disappointing pre-bookings, the airline never flew from ILG to the Florida city.

Levy admitted that the airline needs to improve brand awareness in the Delaware Valley while remaining patient about building a market where rival Frontier has twice pulled the plug. Levy also said seasonal routes to destinations like Savannah and Nashville could resume at some point.

Most Florida destinations did make the revised schedule, with Wilmington, NC, and Myrtle Beach, SC. service slated to resume. On the plus side, passenger traffic to some Florida destinations was stronger than expected.


The most encouraging comment from Levy was news that Avelo is becoming profitable.

Frontier adds 10 more cities out of Philly.

Avelo rival Frontier Airlines is adding ten new destinations from Philadelphia International Airport beginning in May. As announced earlier, the new routes are in addition to service to Minneapolis and Pittsburgh. With the new routes, Frontier will serve 39 destinations from PHL and operate an average 44 daily departures this summer, an increase of 47 percent from a year ago.

“From the Midwest to the East Coast and from Maine to Florida, these new routes span much of the country and represent our continued commitment to growth from PHL,” said Barry Biffle, the CEO, of Frontier Airlines at a press event in Philadelphia. “PHL will see the second largest increase in daily departures on Frontier this summer among our major operational bases.”

Under Biffle, who once worked for American’s predecessor US Airways in Philadelphia, Frontier ended service to Wilmington and trimmed flights from Trenton.

Frontier is pulling back from lower-fare leisure markets like Orlando and Vegas and focusing on cities with high airfares.

Frontier is hedging its bets by offering service to many of the new destinations a few times a week. An exception is Pittsburgh, where it will offer twice-daily nonstops in a clear challenge to American. There are signs American, which has a 70% market share in Philly, is responding with added flights and perhaps bigger jets to its Pittsburgh schedule.

More than a decade ago, US Airways beat back a challenge from Southwest Airlines, which dropped Philadelphia service to Pittsburgh and New England. Southwest now operates a limited schedule in Philly and trails Frontier in passenger traffic.

New Service from Philadelphia International

Knoxville (TYS)May 16, 20243x/week
Portland, Maine (PWM)May 16, 20243x/week
Milwaukee (MKE)May 16, 20243x/week
Detroit (DTW)May 16, 2024Daily
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)May 21, 2024Daily
Indianapolis (IND)May 21, 20243x/week
Columbus (CMH)May 22, 20243x/week
St. Louis (STL)May 22, 20244x/week
Kansas City (MCI)May 22, 20243x/week
Pensacola (PNS)May 22, 20243x/week
Minneapolis (MSP)***May 21, 2024Daily
Pittsburgh (PIT)***May 16, 20242x/daily
*** Previously announced