Until Wednesday, April 7, if you googled ‘Avelo Air’, the first result you got was the airline’s website (www.aveloair.com) and a slogan: “Something new is on the horizon”. But as you clicked on the website address, the only page you reached recited “Experience beautiful destinations. Sign up and be the first to learn more”.
Then, on April 8, 2021 Avelo Air (XP) launched, announcing the start of operations on April 28 from Hollywood Burbank airport (BUR) to as many as 11 destinations in the western US for fares as low as USD19 one-way. Network includes Santa Rosa-Sonoma County (STS), Arcata-Eureka (ACV), Medford-Rogue Valley (MFR), Eugenne (EUG), Redding (RDD), Redmond-Bend (RDM), Pasco Tri-Cities (PSC), Bozeman Yellowstone (BZN), Ogden-Salt Lake City (OGD), Grand Junction (GJT), and Phoenix-Mesa (AZA).
Avelo had been ‘on the horizon’ for quite some time, actually. The Houston-headquartered airline had been one of the ‘victims’ of the Covid pandemic (the list includes the likes of Breeze Airways and Air Premia, just to name two similar cases): while it was set to launch in 2020, it had to postpone its plans because of the spread of the virus and the plunge in air travel demand.
The man at the helm is Andrew Levy, a former United Airlines (UA) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who left United in May 2018 and, three months later, purchased XTRA Airways, a Florida-based charter carrier. XTRA had sold most of its fleet to Swift Air, but kept a Boeing 737-400 to retain its Part 121 commercial airline certification, which is going to be used by Avelo
Planespotters.net currently indicates three aircraft in Avelo’s fleet. All are Boeing 737-800s fitted with high-density, single-class configuration for 189 passengers. N801XT started its flying carrier in October 2007 in the colours of Egyptian AMC Aviation (YJ) and then spent the rest of its life with ArkeFly (OR) and TUI Airlines Netherland before being delivered to Avelo in February 2020; the airliner is currently parked at Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL); N802XT started its carrier in December 2005 with Turkish Airlines (TK) in a 2-class layout featuring 20 Business and 135 Economy seats, re-configured to 165 seats in 2013; Avelo received it in December 2020 from Japanese lessor Fuyo General Lease; the aircraft is currently parked at Indianapolis International Airport (IND). N803XT also started its activity with Turkish Airlines, before Avelo received it from Fuyo General Lease in February 2021; the aircraft is also parked at IND.
Plans are for the fleet to reach six aircraft with as many as 400 employees by the end of 2021. The new airline will make its business from a “small niche of air travellers who are price sensitive and eager to avoid large, congested airports” Leavy had said before the launch, confirming now that “demand is coming back quickly, but it’s still nowhere near what it used to be. So, I think in the short term prices will be really low, but we’re built for that”.
In 2020 Levy had formed Houston Air Holdings Inc. as Avelo’s parent company and. According to The Los Angeles Times, at the beginning of that he had managed to raise USD 125mln in funding. According to Levy, funds were raised from a variety of private equity firms, family offices and individuals.