Avelo Airlines, the new US startup airline that is more than “a velo”

This year, the USA will have two new airlines. I already covered Breeze, David Neelman’s latest airline. Today we are looking into Avelo air, a new low-cost airline launched by another airline industry veteran: Andrew Levy.

The other news is that Avelo Airlines is going to take off very soon. It’s scheduled for April 27 under the Californian sun.

Why another low-cost airline?

Other the last 15 years, the USA saw the number of legacy carriers shrinking from 6 to 3. We could see the current status as seen as the conclusion of a market consolidation that allows the three remaining airlines to be profitable like nether before.

However, this led to the concentration of their network to even fewer hubs across the country. Small cities only are now mostly limited to these major hubs.

Like David Neelman or Andrew Levy, others see this as an opportunity to launch a new airline to cater to the forgotten markets. 

“When all 10 incumbents are all making money year in, year out for 10 years straight, that tells you something. To me, it tells me there’s not enough competition out there. It’s as simple as that,” he says. “It’s a big country. There’s a lot of people, and there’s not a lot of choices.”

Andrew Levy to FlightGlobal

However, Avelo and Breeze have two different strategies. Neelman’s plans are all about newer aircraft and new technology. Levy’s plans are more classics.

Where to go?

Like Breeze, Avelo identified a series of city pairs that are not or badly served across the United States due to the consolidation of the network airlines.

The first batch of city pairs served by Avelo is tied to a focus city in Burbank in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Like this focus city, all destinations are not significant airports. They are not served daily.

In total, the Avelo sill operates to thirteen destinations with its first three airplanes.

Why Avelo’s name?

All airlines have a reason for picking up a name. Some of them are inspired by their geographic location, such as WestJet or Brussels Airlines.

Others have names close or not to the air, the sky, or aviation in general. We could name Jet Blue, Breeze, or Volaris.

Andrez Levy explained the choice of Avelo’s name to Cranky flier.

They just had to come up with a name that wasn’t traditional and was trademarkable. They liked this one, and now they’re backing into a cooler origin story. Andrew’s favorite so far is that ave means “bird” and velo means “swift,” so it’s a swift bird.

Cranky Fliyer

And how do we pronounce Avelo? Just say “A velo”. That quite an easy way to remember the correct pronunciation!

How was Avelo Airlines so quick to lanch?

Launching an airline is long and painful. Finding investors with sufficiently deep pockets is only one part of the journey. The relation with the regulator can lengthen the process.

The absolute truth is that Avelo is no technically speaking a new airline. As per the FAA, this airline has an AOC valid since ’80 and started its operation under the Casino express name. It later changed its name to Xtra airways.

For years Xtra Airways was a charter operator. The fleet of Boeing 737 completed flights for package vacation sellers, sports teams, or VIP travels.

Eventually, Swift Air (now iAero Airways) purchased Xtra Airways’ activities, and the company kept only one Boeing 737-400 to retain its part 121 certification.

Andrew Levy purchased Xtra Airways for its part 121 certificate in 2018 to establish what we know today as Avelo.

A small fleet to start

On the purchase of Xtra Airways by Levy, the fleet was limited to a single Boeing 737-400. This aircraft found a new home with OWG in Canada in 2020.

Avelo Airlines fleet before it was Avello - This Boeing 737-400 is now with OWG
Former Boeing 737-400 of Xtra Airways at Nolinior Aviation for maintenance (Credit : Nolinor)

In 2020, the company also sourced three Boeing 737-800 to lease them. 

Two of them previously flew for Turkish airlines. The last one mainly flew for the Deutch airlines of the Tui travel group.

In July, three more aircraft will join the fleet, and another focus city will be announced.

Who is Andrew Levy?

Less known than Neelman, Levy has a long career in the airline industry.

He started his career at Valuejet airline in 1993 then co-founded Allegiant Air. He was also a chief financial officer at United after its Allegiant period and still currently a board member of Copa, the leading Latin American airline.

What will the future tell?

I have not found specific information about the funding of the company. Few sources affirm Avelo has ample funding for a new airline. 

It is good to know as many airlines failed due to undercapitalization

If we accept that incomplete information, Avelo checks most of the boxes for a successful airline. 

Avelo is one of the startups that I will follow on GateA1. If you want to know more about Avelo over the following months, register to my mailing list or follow GateA1 on Twitter or Facebook.

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