Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

On Friday, Avelo Airlines celebrated 100 days of travel at Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport.

The event, emceed by Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority Executive Director Sean Scanlon, featured a lineup of state, city and Avelo Airlines representatives. In addition to reflecting on the start of their operations in New Haven, Avelo officials announced plans to add nine new Boeing 737 NGs to their national fleet, to double the number of New Haven-based staff they employ by the end of 2022, to offer flights from the city to several new destinations and to increase investment in their host community. 

“The new service at Tweed has been nothing short of spectacular,” Travis Christ, Avelo’s head of marketing, told the News in an interview. “The reception all throughout Connecticut has been wonderful, and it’s been a great confluence of events.” 

Since its establishment, the airline has flown approximately 70,000 customers on about 600 flights to and from New Haven. 

In his remarks at the event, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal described small airports as “the lifeblood of transportation.” He described the recent surge of new investment into Tweed-New Haven Airport, which had previously been “left for dead,” as “a great American success story.”

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro was similarly impressed with the transformations taking place at the airport, noting that Avelo Airlines was one of only two airlines that launched during the pandemic, and the first airline to offer direct flights between New Haven and Florida.

She described Tweed-New Haven as an “underutilized” airport, a sentiment echoed by Christ, who said southern Connecticut was formerly “like the Bermuda Triangle” when it came to efficient travel. 

As part of their business model, Avelo intentionally seeks out airports that are overlooked by larger airlines, which helps to ensure high demand for plane tickets and minimize operation costs. 

“The airports we fly into are very low cost,” Christ said. “We don’t fly into the big, expensive airports, which can charge really significant fees.” 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker’s remarks emphasized his gratitude at developing the airport and its partnership with Avelo in a way that was “sensitive to the needs of the city.” He also expressed gratitude for the jobs Avelo has created for the community and the airline’s affordability, which he said provides “regular people” in New Haven with access to air travel.

“This is my second time flying Avelo in the last month, and I find it convenient,” Avelo customer Jean Perry Phillips said in an interview with the News. “And I have recommended it to people, and they have used it and also loved it! This is nice — It’s a little tiny airport, and it’s just fine.”

Remarks by New Haven Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli and Avelo Airlines Head of Communications Jim Olson followed. 

Olson announced Avelo’s plans to expand operations to several new markets, running flights to several locations outside of Florida. Currently, the airline only offers flights to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa and West Palm Beach — all major cities in Florida — from their New Haven base. 

Olson also announced Avelo’s intention to hire 100 new employees based at Tweed-New Haven airport in 2022, effectively doubling the number of existing staff the airline has. 

He also highlighted past and future community involvement, speaking about Avelo’s sponsorship of the New Haven road race, its presence at the New Haven tree lighting ceremony and its partnership with UConn athletics, which was announced in January.

“There are several other partnerships at the local and state level that we’ll be announcing very soon,” Olson said. 

Remarks by Isaac Naylor and Kristine Germine, two employees who have been working at Avelo since the airline’s debut in New Haven, followed. They emphasized the career development opportunities Avelo provides and their satisfaction with their work at the airline.

Jennifer Garcia, a trainer and airport auditor who has worked for Avelo since its launch date, described her time with the airline as “a lot of work but a lot of fun,” and said Avelo employees held their own 100 day celebration on Thursday.

“At Avelo, what matters is not day one, but day two, and three and four, and 99 and 100,” Olson said, emphasizing Avelo’s commitment to deepen its relationship with the city of New Haven. “We want to live up to that promise of what we committed to you on that first day.”

Nov. 3, 2021 was Avelo’s first day of operation in New Haven. 

Keenan Miller covers transportation in and around the Elm City. He was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska, and is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in English and psychology.