Say hello to Avelo, new carrier to bring direct flights from Kalamazoo to Florida

KALAMAZOO, MI — Avelo Airlines announced Thursday that it will begin flying direct from Kalamazoo to Orlando, Florida, starting on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Following the inaugural flight, the low-cost airline, which launched in Burbank, California in April 2021 — and later added bases in New Haven, Connecticut and Orlando — will fly between Orlando International Airport and Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) on Fridays and Mondays.

The airline, which is now partnered with 29 airports across the country, announced earlier this week that it will also begin nonstop service from Capital Region International Airport to Orlando in October and fly between the two destinations on Thursdays and Sundays.

Founded by former Allegiant Air president Andrew Levy, Avelo Airlines will become the third carrier flying in and out of Kalamazoo, joining Delta, which flies in and out of Detroit twice daily, and American, which flies in and out of Chicago twice daily.

The total number of flights at the airport is down considerably from pre-pandemic times when the airport saw 13 flights come both in and out on a daily basis, AZO executive director Craig Williams told the Kalamazoo Gazette/MLive. While Avelo will offer service on just two days initially, he said, that could be expanded later.

“We are down, certainly with the combination of COVID that started it, and now, the pilot shortage which has made it difficult for regional airlines to come back into the market,” Williams said. “These problems are not unique to Kalamazoo. There are a lot of small markets that have been impacted as airlines are trying to recover from COVID and then they get the double whammy of having a pilot shortage.”

While many larger carriers have dealt with pilot shortages and cancellations, Jim Olson, Avelo’s head of communications, said that is something that the fledgling airline has been able to avoid based on how the company has been building its model and brand.

“We have canceled less than 1% of our flights since we started flying,” Olson said, adding that the airline’s base model is for each crew to fly direct from their base to destination and back each day, allowing them to sleep in their own beds.

That move also allows the airline to save costs on putting up crews in hotels in different cities across the country each night, which in turn, allows them to offer low fares to travelers.

As far as low fares go, travelers interested in flying from Lansing or Kalamazoo to Orlando before Feb. 15, 2023 can take advantage of introductory rates of just $59 one-way if they book prior to midnight on Aug. 2.

Regular service between Lansing and Orlando begins on Thursday, Oct. 27 and service between Kalamazoo and Orlando begins on Friday, Oct. 28. Customers can make reservations at AveloAir.com.

Flights will depart from AZO at 8:50 pm on Mondays and Fridays, arriving in Orlando at 11:20 pm Flights into Kalamazoo will depart Orlando at 5:25 pm and arrive in Kalamazoo at 8:05 pm

Flights out of Lansing depart at 8:50 pm Thursdays and Sundays, arriving in Orlando at 11:30 pm Flights into Lansing will depart Orlando at 5:20 pm on those days and arrive in Lansing at 8:05 pm

The evening flights out of the smaller, regional airports allow people to still work during the day before jetting off for a long weekend in the sun, Olson said.

“Our mission statement is about inspiring travel and we do that by making travel more affordable and easier and we’re excited about bringing that ease and affordability of reliable travel to the Kalamazoo and Lansing areas,” he said. “We love small hometown airports.

“We like to fly to places like Orlando because that’s where people want to fly, but overall if you look at our route maps, most of the places we fly are secondary airports in big markets, like Burbank, which is in the shadow of Los Angeles International but a much more convenient, friendly smaller airport than LAX. We really do have a bias toward places that are underserved or unserved and Kalamazoo was unserved to Florida.”

The new routes will operate on Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft and customers will be able to choose to pay additional, typically between $11 and $30 more, for upgraded seating options that include extra leg room or pre-reserved window or aisle seating, Olson said .

Checked bags and overhead carry-on bags are $40 per bag and carry-ons that can fit under the seat are free.

Avelo also offers flexible travel scheduling with no change or cancellation fees.

Williams celebrated the addition of Avelo to the AZO family, stating that he feels the move will be mutually beneficial for both the airport and airline and that when the airport has offered service to Florida in the past it has proven successful.

He also said the airport is continuing to push for flights to Charlotte, North Carolina’s American Airlines hub as a result of a $1 million grant it received from the US Department of Transportation last summer; however, there are no plans by the airline to add service at this time.

“This is an important city that would connect the community to American’s second largest hub,” Williams said Thursday. “We continue to pursue it and would use funding from our Small Community Air Service Development grant to make it happen.”

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