Wilmington International Airport has netted new nonstop service to Florida destinations Tampa and West Palm Beach, bringing the airport’s total number of nonstop destinations to 16.
Airport officials gathered with local leaders to make the announcement Thursday of ultra-low-cost carrier Avelo Airline’s newest expansion of service at ILM. In addition to the new service to Tampa and West Palm Beach, Avelo is servicing two additional nonstop flights to Orlando, Florida, each week, bringing the weekly total of flights to Orlando to four during the peak summer travel season.
Airport director Jeff Bourk lauded these improvements to air service, which he indicated could entice local travelers to choose ILM over Raleigh-Durham International Airport or Myrtle Beach International Airport.
“It’s not just get on a plane and go to Charlotte and Atlanta anymore. You’ve got 16 places you can go nonstop, and then with all the five airlines we have here now, you can get to over 360 destinations one-stop,” Bourk said.
These new flights make ILM the largest non-base operator in Avelo’s lineup of more than 40 airports nationwide, according to Courtney Goff, communications manager for the airline.
Goff listed the airport’s central location on the East Coast and support from both the airport and the larger community as reasons underscoring Avelo’s willingness to expand operations in Wilmington. The Wilmington Business Development, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, and Wilmington and Beaches CVB and the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority were among those listed by Bourk as groups playing an instrumental role in supporting Avelo’s growth, along with other local government boards and commissions.
These same factors could lead to the airline ultimately establishing a base here, Goff added.
“It would make excellent sense to look at a base here, at some point,” Goff said, adding that Avelo has participated in some preliminary discussions with ILM about the possibility as the company charts its strategy for growth.
Avelo currently operates bases out of Burbank, California; Orlando; New Haven, Connecticut; Raleigh; and Wilmington, Delaware. If Avelo were to establish Wilmington as one of its base airports, the airline could store planes here and assemble a local crew of pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents.
Service to West Palm Beach is set to launch June 22, with flights to and from the destination scheduled for Thursdays and Sundays. Beginning June 23, the new Tampa routes are scheduled for Mondays and Fridays. Flights to and from Orlando will operate Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday of each week from June 22 through Sept. 6.
Tickets for the new routes, which start at $29 for a one-way fare during the introductory phase, are available to book online.
All of the six destinations currently offered by Avelo are located along the East Coast. As the airline expands its arsenal of planes, ILM could see service to inland, or even West Coast, destinations. Plans are underway to add five new aircraft to its current inventory of 15 planes by year’s end, Goff said, but she cautioned that this kind of expansion of service would likely be later down the road to ensure growth doesn’t negatively impact the passenger experience.
“Our No. 1 thing is to run a great operation and make sure that we’re treating our customers to the best operational and customer service experience,” Goff said.
Avelo first entered the Wilmington market in June 2022 with nonstop service to New Haven and Orlando, plus seasonal nonstop service to Baltimore. Just months later, Avelo announced it would add a fourth seasonal route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Strong bookings for Fort Lauderdale flights led Avelo to extend the once-seasonal service in December.
Born of the pandemic-induced blow to the airline industry, Avelo Airlines launched in April 2021 and now serves more than 40 destinations across the country. All flights offered by the airline are nonstop, serviced by a fleet of American-made Boeing 737 jets.
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