Avelo adds Puerto Rico route, its 1st outside the continental US

Avelo Airlines is adding its first destination outside the continental U.S. to its map: San Juan in Puerto Rico.

The budget carrier announced Tuesday that it plans to fly between its base in New Haven, Connecticut, and San Juan starting Nov. 15. Introductory fares for the new route start at $99 one-way.

Avelo will operate the route twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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Avelo’s foray into San Juan marks a banner year of growth for the startup carrier, which launched in 2021. Over the past year, Avelo has added dozens of new routes across the country, primarily in cities with limited or no commercial air service, turning places like Wilmington, Delaware, and New Haven into bases.

The carrier’s business model relies on connecting such cities to popular leisure destinations, like Orlando and Las Vegas, which also have turned into bases for the company with flights from the small and midsize cities it focuses on.

While the carrier has also axed routes — including all of its flights from previous destinations like Lexington, Kentucky, and Newport News, Virginia — it has also seen short-term success in other smaller cities not known for commercial air service.

For example, in Delaware, a state where carriers like Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines previously found it difficult to maintain a presence, Avelo has added a total of 14 routes from Wilmington Airport (ILG) — the most in the airport’s history. ILG had no commercial service when Avelo began flying there in February.

It is still unclear if Avelo can maintain long-term success in these smaller U.S. cities, though it appears to be following the playbook used to great success by fellow ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air.

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Startup pivot: Avelo was going to launch in the East, but it went West to capitalize on rivals’ cuts in California

For now, Avelo remains focused on growth.

Andrew Levy, Avelo’s CEO, perhaps foreshadowed the Puerto Rico expansion during a June interview with TPG, saying that the startup had been thinking about growing the carrier’s map to destinations beyond the continental U.S. Besides Puerto Rico, Levy said in the interview that Avelo was also interested in eventually branching out to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Still, he said during that interview that the company wanted to move judiciously in growing beyond the continental 48 states.

“We’re not in any rush for that,” Levy told TPG in June. “That might be a 2024 thing, but we’ll see — we have so many opportunities that we are pursuing.”

Trip report: What it was like flying on Avelo Airlines’ 1st flight

Now, with Avelo’s planned launch in November, the airline appears to have sensed an earlier opportunity.

News of Avelo’s new route to Puerto Rico’s capital was met with much fanfare at Tweed New Haven Airport (HVN). Avelo hosted a ceremony at the airport, with Puerto Rican food and a bomba performance, the traditional dance and music from Puerto Rico. Connecticut officials Gov. Ned Lamont and Sen. Richard Blumenthal were among the dignitaries to attend the ceremony.

Lamont said the new route would help to improve the state’s economy.

“The addition of routes like this strengthens the region as a whole, improving our economic competitiveness and quality of life,” he said in a statement.

Flight review: Try it, you’ll like it: Flying on startup airline Avelo

Blumenthal said the San Juan route would also greatly serve Connecticut’s significant Puerto Rican population, which is the sixth largest in the U.S.

“This new route is a major milestone for Avelo, but also a big win for Connecticut’s sizeable Puerto Rican population who now have another affordable and convenient way to travel home to see friends and family,” he said in a statement. “I have been pleased to see Avelo’s growth over the last two years and will continue fighting to advance our state’s air travel infrastructure and local airports.”

It remains to be seen if Avelo plans to connect other cities to San Juan in the near future.

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