Tweed adds four Florida routes
The new leisure routes are a departure from previous business hub destinations. Meanwhile, American Airlines seems poised to leave on Sept. 30.
Escaping New England weather just got easier.
In early November, Tweed-New Haven Airport will begin nonstop flights to and from four airports in Florida — Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Fort Myers — in a bid to attract Connecticut residents craving beaches and warmer temperatures. The routes, which were announced on Aug. 19, will be serviced by the Houston-based low-cost carrier Avelo Airlines. Avelo, which currently operates a hub in Burbank, California, designated Tweed as its East Coast base earlier this summer.
“For decades people have been asking for more service out of [Tweed],” Tweed Director Sean Scanlon wrote on Twitter. “So proud to work with a great team to finally make new service a reality!”
Before the Florida routes are added, however, Tweed may once again be temporarily left without commercial flights, as it was last winter. Last November, American Airlines announced its decision to withdraw services from Tweed. American Airlines currently operates daily flights to Philadelphia International, but has not announced formal plans to continue service at Tweed past Sept. 30, when the pandemic-related federal stimulus dollars that are currently funding the route run out. At time of publication, the airline has not sold tickets at Tweed for dates after Sept. 30.
Still, Avelo CEO Andrew Levy’s promise to remain for “decades to come” may offer long-term stability for the airport, which has struggled over the last two decades to attract new routes and airlines.
The airline’s 147-seat Boeing 737s will fly five days a week each to Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, plus three and two flights a week to Tampa and Fort Myers, respectively. Tickets to all four cities will begin at $59, according to Avelo email advertisements.
Florida was the top choice destination for travellers in an online poll marketed towards New Haveners with 6,000 respondents, Levy said at a press conference in August. The Sunshine State’s “wide appeal and low price points” make it the perfect first step for the airline, he added. Washington, D.C. was also mentioned as a possible future destination.
The airline and airport have already begun the hiring process for the 100 New Haven-based employees, including pilots, flight attendants and other operations positions.
Avelo’s arrival at Tweed is a crucial part of the $100 million investment deal announced last spring between the airport authority and management partner Avports, which has operated Tweed for two decades and also manages airports in Detroit and upstate New York. This deal would end New Haven’s annual subsidy to the airport, lengthen the runway to accommodate larger jets and build a new terminal in East Haven.
Those expansions still require approval by the City Plan Commission and Board of Alders this fall. However, many local officials, including Mayor Justin Elicker, have already voiced their support for the plans.
To accommodate the new flights, Tweed officials asked the City Plan Commission for approval on several more immediate projects, including a $5 million renovation of the current terminal and new parking spaces. During the commission’s August meeting, City Plan Director Aicha Woods supported the move as an economic boon to the area, an argument echoed by other officials as well as business leaders.
“We… want to think about the role in growing jobs and opportunities for New Haven residents, and also opportunities for residents to travel,” said Woods.
Some residents, however, attended the hours-long meeting to oppose the expansion. According to the New Haven Independent, some argued that the expansion would damage the area’s wetlands and exacerbate climate change. These residents, many of them from Tweed’s surrounding Morris Cove neighborhood, have long opposed expansion of any kind. This summer, they organized as the “10,000 Hawks” to oppose the deal.
Still, the Floridian routes are not necessarily contingent on the wider expansion, Scanlon told the Independent, and will begin even if the renovations are not approved by November.
Tweed-New Haven was renamed after airport director John H. “Jack” Tweed in 1961.