Avelo gives Oregon’s capital city its first flights in years

For years, Oregon‘s capital city of Salem, which sits squarely in the state’s wine country, had no commercial air service.

But that’s about to change.

Ultra-low-cost startup Avelo Airlines announced that it plans to launch flights from the city to its bases in Las Vegas and Burbank, California.

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Twice-weekly flights between Salem, Oregon, and Las Vegas will begin on Oct. 5 and fly on Thursdays and Sundays. Avelo will also operate twice-weekly flights on Fridays and Mondays between the Oregon capital and Burbank, California, on Oct. 6. One-way fares to the two cities start at $39.

The ultra-low-cost startup said it wanted to launch flights out of Salem Municipal Airport (SLE) due to its location in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine country. The region is home to 70% of the state’s population.

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Chris Hoy, Salem’s mayor, lauded the announcement, which came after the city spent millions of dollars to prime its airport for commercial air service.

“As our city continues its coming-of-age journey, commercial passenger air service will make investing in our city easier and will make the world a little more accessible for our residents who travel,” Hoy said in a statement.

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The addition of Salem to Avelo’s map fits into the startup’s business model of operating flights out of smaller cities that typically either have no commercial air service or very limited passenger flights to popular leisure destinations. Earlier this year, Avelo launched its first flight from Wilmington, Delaware, which had held the title as the only state in the U.S. with no commercial air service.

Avelo may also look into adding flights to San Francisco and Phoenix if its operations in Salem are successful, according to a report from the Statesman Journal.

For the past two decades, Salem had hoped to launch commercial air service in the city but to no avail. Delta Air Lines briefly flew from Salem, Oregon, to Salt Lake City from 2007 to 2008. However, the Atlanta-based carrier swiftly scrapped the route, blaming the 2008 recession and soaring fuel prices. SeaPort Airlines, a regional carrier that folded in 2016, had also temporarily operated flights in Salem in 2011, using the capital as a stop for its route between Newport, Oregon, and Portland, Oregon.

Despite the past failed attempts to bring commercial air service to Oregon’s capital, Avelo CEO Andrew Levy seemed optimistic that the ultra-low-cost carrier could make it work.

“As the first airline to serve the Capital City in nearly 15 years, Avelo makes getting to your favorite destinations easier and more affordable than ever,” Levy said in a statement. “Say goodbye to the hassle of long and expensive gas-guzzling drives to other distant airports, and say hello to a new era of convenience, low fares and reliability.”

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