Newer Airlines Landing in Smaller Florida Airports

Since taking flight on April 28, 2021, Avelo has flown more than 4.8 million customers on over 38,000 flights. Avelo serves 49 destinations spanning 23 states and Puerto Rico.

Avelo Airlines held its inaugural flight from Lakeland Linder International Airport on June 13 to New Haven, Connecticut. Albeit a busy airport for Amazon Prime cargo planes and private charters, this is the first time the Lakeland airport has had commercial flights in 12 years.

The airline’s communication team said it was a no-brainer to begin flying out of Lakeland.

“Lakeland has everything we value at Avelo. It’s less congested than surrounding larger airports and will provide a great customer experience. It aligns with our goal of utilizing smaller, more convenient airports to take people where they want to go,” said Avelo Airlines Communications Manager Courtney Goff.

He is also a board member of Copa, a popular airline in Latin America. Since 2021, the airline has flown almost 4 million customers on over 37,000 flights, Goff said.

“Our No. 1 standard is safety always and that will always be the goal. We have procedures in place to ensure safety and complete daily inspections of our fleet,” Goff said.

“In May, Avelo ranked No. 1 in on-time performance and delivered the lowest flight cancellation rate in the industry – the second straight month Avelo led the industry in both metrics. …These results are based on Anuvu’s third party data platform, the same company and platform utilized by the Wall Street Journal for (its) annual best and worst airline ranking,’’ he added.

Direct flights

According to Avelo’s website, it’s a low-cost carrier meaning customers have to pay for things like bags and seat selections and food is not served on board. It specializes in direct flights to smaller airports such as Wilmington, Delaware and New Haven, Connecticut, which are a 30 minute and two-hour drive from bigger cities like Philadelphia and New York City. The airline offers flights traveling up and down the east and west coast.

“Avelo is differentiating itself by flying unserved routes to primarily underserved communities across the country – meaning every route has at least one small, easy to use airport,” its website states.

Goff said the airline is looking to add more destinations to Lakeland, but San Juan, Puerto Rico is not likely one of them due to the numerous other nonstop options to the island available in Central Florida.

“We are currently evaluating a lot of flight options. As we mentioned when we started service, we use a crawl, walk, run method. We’ll start with one route with twice weekly service, and then grow from there based on demand and interest,” Goff explained. “We’re continuously looking at new opportunities to serve Florida as it’s one of the most popular destinations.”

The flights

The Avelo flights are as low as $82 roundtrip, from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale, before bags and seat selection. Baggage fees vary depending on the route but some start at $40 for checked bags at initial reservation and rise from there. Seat selection typically ranges from $11 to $64.

Differing from other airlines, Avelo only offers nonstop flights and doesn’t charge change or cancellation fees. It also doesn’t allow children under age 15 to travel without a parent, guardian, or another traveler aged 15 or older.

According to the airline’s website, it operates using Boeing Next Generation 737 aircraft, which each row has three seats on each side of the aisle. The planes are pretty modest. On the flights between Lake- land and New Haven, the seats didn’t appear to recline and there weren’t any televisions or cell phone charging stations.

The Lakeland airport is small, with free parking and a short walking distance from the parking lot to the check-in counter. It currently only offers flights to and from New Haven, on Thursdays and Sundays. “There are no trains. There are no shuttle buses. There are no long walks from the gate to the terminal. We also save people money by offering some of the most affordable prices in the industry.

I think if you compare prices between some of the other airports in this region and get up to Connecticut, you’re going to find some of the most affordable, cheapest fares, coming out of this airport,” said Jim Olson, Avelo’s Head of Brand and Communication, during a news conference before the inaugural Lakeland flight.

In New Haven, the airport is fairly small but there are numerous Avelo flights departing from there. There are three waiting areas and a small cafe.

Check-in is in modular buildings and then passengers have to carry their bags to the airport’s main building next door to be put on the plane and get in line for security.

With the numerous flights leaving at similar times and only two TSA lines, it took about 40 minutes from arrival to get- ting through security. Avelo recommends arriving two hours before its flights. Both airports have Avis/Budget rental car offices.

Breeze Airways

Another airline to watch in Florida is Breeze Airways, which also prides itself on providing nonstop service to underserved routes across the United States at affordable rates, according to its website. It began operation in May of 2021 with an inaugural flight from Tampa to Charleston, South Carolina.

Breeze Airways services numerous cities in Florida and has bases in Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers. It also flies out of Jacksonville, Vero Beach, Pensacola, Sarasota and West Palm Beach. Some of the flights to underserved destinations include direct flights from Jacksonville to Vermont, New Orleans, and Richmond, Virginia, or flights from Tampa to Charleston, West Virginia, or flights from Fort Myers to Syracuse, New York.

Its Fort Myers airport has 19 destinations alone that it serves. New routes to start in October include Fort Myers to Manchester, New Hampshire; Stewart/ Newburgh, New York, Lansing, Michigan; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pennsylvania; and Bangor, Maine.

The airline typically flies using Airbus A220-300 aircraft, which have USB power outlets, and inflight screens on the backs of seats for entertainment.

Passengers can also purchase food and drinks during flights.

At the end of June, Breeze Airways will return its summer seasonal route on Tuesdays and Saturdays from Jacksonville to Westchester County, New York, with one-way fares starting at $49. It will also begin a new route on Mondays and Fridays from West Palm Beach to Raleigh-Durham with one-way fares starting at $49.


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