Another airline is poised to begin operations in the United States. Houston-based Avelo Airlines has the planes, the approvals, and the money to begin boarding passengers. With travel bouncing back across the United States, now might be the perfect time for Avelo to start selling tickets and filling departure gates.
A little about Avelo Airlines’ DNA
Avelo can trace its origins back over three decades. Some Simple Flying readers may remember Nevada-based Casino Airlines from the 1980s and 1990s. Casino Airlines became Xtra Airways in 2005 and relocated its base to Idaho. By then, the airline’s core business was charters. Xtra Airways provided the Boeings for Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign.
In 2018, airline industry executive Andrew Levy brought Xtra Airways. He sold all the aircraft except a single Boeing 737, thereby retaining certification to operate an airline. Last year, Levy relocated his new airline to Houston, raised a lazy US$125 million, and changed its name to Avelo Airlines.
Who is the man behind Avelo Airlines?
The man behind Avelo, Andrew Levy, has a long history in the United States airline industry. He began working at ValuJet Airlines in the mid-1990s. Between 2001 and 2014, Levy was the President of another Nevada-based airline, ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air. In 2016, he became Chief Financial Officer at United Airlines. His departure from United Airlines two years later raised eyebrows across the industry. At the time, there were suggestions of conflict on United’s executive floors. But the reason for his departure was probably more prosaic. In the same year, Levy purchased Xtra Airways.
What type of planes will Avelo Airlines fly?
Avelo Airlines fly a fleet of Boeing 737-800s. Right now, according to Planespotters.net, the airline now has three. They are N801XT, N802XT, and N803XT. The aircraft Levy held onto to retain his commercial airline certificate, a Boeing 737-400 registered as N688XA, went back to its lessor last year. Only one unit is currently active at the time of writing.
The three Boeing 737-800s are leased, funded by last year’s $125 million capital raising. None of the aircraft are new. The planes are aged between 13.5 and 15.4 years. One of the reasons Andrew Levy is keen to kick start an airline right now are the inexpensive lease rates. He also argues sticking to the one type of plane will keep ongoing operating costs down.
A luxe travel experience or no-frills?
Don’t expect luxe JetBlue Mint Suites or Flagship First style lounges from Avelvo. This is going to be a barebones, ultra-low-cost bring your own water style airline. In classic low-cost style, Levy is going to fly city pairs from secondary airports. He wants to target markets that other airlines ignore. Applying lessons learned running Allegiant Air, Andrew Levy is quoted in The Los Angeles Times saying, “the best way to compete is not to compete.”
Avelo’s CEO notes in a large market like the United States, there are millions of budget-conscious airline brand-agnostic travelers out there who are happy to use secondary airports. Where Avelo will fly to isn’t yet known, but Hollywood’s Burbank Airport is looking like a likely starting point.
When will Avelo Airlines start flying?
Avelo had planned to start flying last year. The global travel pandemic waylaid those plans. However, with the first planes on the ground in the United States, a launch is expected soon. But Avelo’s website isn’t giving much away. There is still no booking function, airport information, or start dates on it.
However, Andrew Levy has been out and out, spruiking his airline in the media. He says now is the perfect time to start an airline. Given the rebound in domestic flying across the United States, the charge being led by leisure travelers, he may have a point.
What do you think? What are the prospects for Avelo Airlines, and will it get into the air soon? Post a comment and let us know.