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New startup airline Avelo is adding Las Vegas, but will it work?

July 15 2021
3 min read
New startup airline Avelo is adding Las Vegas, but will it work?
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Avelo Airlines is expanding its reach outside of its Burbank base.

On Thursday, one of America's newest startup airlines announced its latest destination, Las Vegas. Avelo will fly a unique route — one that hasn't been served since December 2019 — for its first (and only) service to Sin City.

Beginning on Sept. 16, the airline will fly four weekly flights from Sonoma County, California (STS), to Las Vegas (LAS), making LAS the second destination Avelo serves from the Charles M. Schulz Airport (the other is Burbank).

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As expected for the ultra-low-cost carrier, one-way fares begin at $39, with ancillary fees for seats, bags and other optional services available a la carte.

The airline will deploy one of its three Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the route, outfitted with 189 seats in a tight 3-3 configuration. Extra-legroom seats are available beginning at $11.

While Avelo will have a monopoly on the Santa Rosa to Las Vegas route, the market has been served before by other low-cost airlines. Sun Country last flew the route between August 2018 and December 2019, before pulling out of the market. Allegiant also tried the route from May 2016 through July 2017. (Alaska Airlines had the longest run: from April 2008 through June 2012, according to Cirium schedules.)

Though Avelo certainly is hopeful that it'll fare better than Sun Country, Allegiant and Alaska, it'll face some strong headwinds.

According to Department of Transportation data from 2017 through 2019, there were between 70 and 140 weekly passengers on average flying between STS and LAS.

Avelo's four weekly flights will offer a total of over 750 seats each week, so unless the demand pattern has changed, it'll be interesting to see how the new flight performs.

Avelo's Boeing 737-800 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

To support the expansion, Avelo isn't taking delivery of new jets. Rather, the carrier confirmed to TPG that it's pulling out of two of its launch markets, Grand Junction, Colorado (GJT), and Bozeman, Montana (BZN), which will help free up aircraft time to support the new LAS route.

Related: What it’s like flying with Avelo

In addition, as part of the airline's winter schedule, the airline retimed its flight from Burbank (BUR) to STS, leaving a nearly six-hour block of time between the outbound and return legs. It wasn't immediately clear why the airline would park the plane in Santa Rosa for so long, but now we have the answer: the plane will continue on to Las Vegas and back during the six-hour downtime.

When confirming the route cuts earlier this month, Avelo teased new route announcements but didn't have details ready to share. Now, we know at least one of the new markets, though the carrier told TPG there's even more expansion coming soon.

For one, the airline is headed east. In early May, the carrier unveiled plans to open its first East Coast base in New Haven, Connecticut. The city’s Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport (HVN) is currently undergoing enhancements to facilitate commercial service with a Boeing 737. That work is still underway, which has caused Avelo to delay its New Haven launch until early November.

It's anyone's guess what's coming next, but Las Vegas won't be the end for Avelo.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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