Print
Hospitality

Inaugural Avelo Flight Touches Down At ILM

By Johanna F. Still, posted Jun 30, 2022
The inaugural Avelo flight from New Haven, Connecticut landed at the Wilmington International Airport on Thursday morning. (Photos by Johanna F. Still)

Just before 10 a.m. Thursday, a nearly full flight of passengers landed aboard low-cost carrier Avelo’s inaugural flight into the Wilmington International Airport.

The Boeing 737-700 arriving from New Haven, Connecticut, was greeted by a ceremonial water salute as it made its way to its ILM gate. Large enough to seat 147 passengers, the plane was filled with 139, Avelo officials said Thursday. 

After the 80-minute flight, deboarding passengers were greeted by Avelo-branded fanfare, including an elaborate cake, cookies and other swag, plus visitor pamphlets provided by the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

“For an inaugural flight, it’s great. This is just the inbound passengers, so nobody’s going back yet. So you wouldn't necessarily expect the first flight to be full,” said ILM executive director Jeff Bourk, explaining that the nearly full arriving flight was a good sign.

The plane left ILM to return to Avelo’s base in New Haven at 12:20 p.m. About 120 passengers boarded the outbound plane, according to Bourk. Trips to Orlando, Florida and a seasonal Baltimore route kick off Friday. 

Booking for Avelo’s thrice-weekly three new routes began April 28, the day ILM announced the arrival of its long-sought, first-ever low-cost carrier. Avelo spokesperson Courtney Goff said the airline typically has about a 90-day promotional period to alert the market of a new route but had just 60 days to increase awareness about the ILM routes.  

“New Haven is crushing it,” Goff said, adding that purchases for the Orlando route have been steady. Baltimore is a little flat for the fall, but Goff said she anticipates bookings will pick back up soon. After flights to Baltimore end for the season on Nov. 7, Avelo plans to announce a new seasonal destination to cover the off-season; where to is still undetermined, Goff said. 

Earlier this week, Avelo extended its booking period across its entire network to February, giving customers more options to plan ahead (typically, low-cost carriers set schedules about four to six months ahead, Bourk said). 

The entrance of Avelo into ILM’s long-held landscape of three legacy carriers (Delta, American and United) will likely cause a shake-up, Goff said. Avelo’s lower fares will prompt the other carriers to alter their approach to stay competitive in the shifting marketplace, she said. 

“When an ultra-low-cost carrier comes in and we’re offering $50 tickets, your Americans and Uniteds that have been able to get by charging $700 roundtrip, they’re like, ‘OK, we need to figure out how we can still maintain.’”

American Airlines recently increased the number of seats it was offering at ILM. This shift partially contributed to ILM’s all-time monthly departure record for May of nearly 52,360 seats set last month. Now with Avelo’s numbers in the mix, Bourk anticipates the new ceiling will continue to rise. 

“I think we’re going to have record months through the rest of the year,” Bourk said.

Soaring outbound traffic at ILM is bucking industry trends in the state and nation, which are still generally lagging below pre-pandemic levels, ILM officials said earlier this week. 

Avelo spokesperson Travis Christ harkened to similarities between the Wilmington and New Haven markets while hinting at the possibility of adding new flights to ILM. In New Haven, Avelo’s load factor was over 90% in April due to an overwhelming reception, Christ said. The carrier began with six routes there in November, then added another four, and then another four, he said. 

“Could Wilmington be the next New Haven for Avelo?” he asked. “Like New Haven, Wilmington has only had service from legacy high-fare airlines. Like New Haven, you’re getting Avelo at a time where we have new airplanes coming and we’re looking for new places to fly them.” 

With about 500 crew members, the new carrier began service last spring and now has three bases in Burbank, California, New Haven and Orlando. A fleet of 10 planes will grow to 15 or more by next year, Christ said. 

“Bringing a new airline to town is hard work," Christ said, while complimenting the work of ILM officials. "Everybody expects these airlines to just show up. But it takes a really deep understanding and relationship with the airlines. It takes a lot of time and money, and there’s a lot of voodoo in there that people don’t really know what goes on in order to make these things happen.”

Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Junegunter teachinghorse headshot 5721115557

What Is Next?

June Gunter - TeachingHorse
Natalieenglish headshot

Becoming a Breakout City: Bring on the Remote Workers

Natalie English - Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Billcoleman lopw headshot

Reaping The Benefits Of Patience

Bill Coleman - Live Oak Private Wealth

Trending News

Murchison Building Downtown Sold For $8.25M

Johanna F. Still - Aug 12, 2022

With Home Sales Down In July, Realtors Struggle To Choose 'sweet Spot' Prices

Cece Nunn - Aug 12, 2022

Local Film Projects Building Sizeable Spend; New TV Series Announced For September

Jenny Callison - Aug 12, 2022

In The Current Issue

Borrowers Seek Adjustable-rate Perks

During recent years when interest rates were at rock-bottom levels, borrowers have kept adjustable-rate mortgages at arm’s length. But now,...


Film Focus: Printing The Scene

Port City Signs & Graphics "does everything for their set in the way of decals, magnets, backdrop items, canvas art, vehicle graphics and se...


Stacking The (parking) Deck

The amount and cost of parking in urban settings is a ubiquitous topic, particularly in growing cities like Wilmington, where not everyone a...

Book On Business

The 2022 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100