Avelo to offer flights from Lexington to Florida this fall

Avelo, an ultra-low-cost airline, will begin offering flights from Blue Grass Airport to two Florida cities beginning this fall.  Avelo is the first new airplane carrier at Blue Grass Airport since 2010.

Avelo, an ultra-low-cost airline, will begin offering flights from Blue Grass Airport to two Florida cities beginning this fall. Avelo is the first new airplane carrier at Blue Grass Airport since 2010.

Avelo

For the first time in over a decade, a new airline carrier is coming to Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, airport officials announced Thursday.

Avelo, a low-cost carrier with bases in Orlando, Fla., Hollywood, Calif. and New Haven, CT, will begin non-stop service from Lexington to two locations in Florida. The company will begin service to Orlando starting Oct. 19 and Tampa beginning Nov. 12.

One-way fares start as low as $39. Tickets go on sale Thursday at www.aveloair.com.

Both destinations will have two flights per week, airport officials said.

Hunter Leavy, chief financial officer for Avelo, said the airline, which began in April 2021, is looking to serve secondary markets to make travel more convenient for those who live outside of large, metropolitan areas. Lexington was a good fit.

“We are always looking for markets that are undeserved,” Leavy said of Avelo’s business strategy. It already has a base or hub in Orlando.

Leavy said Avelo will start with the two service areas in Florida but could expand to other airports, likely on the East Coast where it already has established service areas.

“It will depend on demand,” Leavy said.

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Passengers board the plane as Avelo Airlines takes off with first flight between Burbank and Santa Rosa at Hollywood Burbank Airport on April 28, 2021 in Burbank, California. Joe Scarnici Getty Images for Avelo Air

Eric Frankl, executive director and CEO of Blue Grass Airport, said the airline industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is still trying to return to pre-pandemic travel volumes.

“The last several years in the aviation industry have been an enormous challenge for many communities, including ours, as air service continues to recover,” Frankl said. “For Avelo to make this announcement in the current environment is truly remarkable, and we are very appreciative.”

Frankl said the airport is doing about 80-85% of the business it did in 2019.

“It’s substantially better than it was last year at this time,” Frankl said. “The challenge this year has been pilots and aircraft availability.”

Allegiant, another low-cost airline that serves Blue Grass Airport, offers flights from Lexington to Orlando and Tampa Bay. Avelo will fly to different airports in those cities. Avelo will fly to Orlando International Airport, which is the closest airport to Disney World. In Tampa, it will fly to Tampa International Airport.

That means more flights to popular destinations in Florida, Frankl said. That will also help the airport grow and keep business.

“They are going to different airports that serve different populations,” Frankl said of Allegiant and Avelo. “We have a lot of folks from Lexington and Central Kentucky that travel to other airports to travel. We feel like we will be able to retain more travelers by having more seats and destinations they want to go to.”

Avelo’s fleet includes Boeing 737s.

Travelers like bigger airplanes that have more space, he said.

The last time a new commercial airplane carrier came to Lexington was AirTran in 2010. After AirTran merged with Southwestern Airways, it left Blue Grass Airport in 2012. Allegiant has been at the airport since 2008.

With the addition of Avelo, Blue Grass Airport will soon have five commercial carriers — Avelo, Allegiant, American Airways, United Airlines and Delta.

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington DC

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