Keenan Miller, Contributing Photographer
On Tuesday, Avelo Airlines announced three new flight routes that will operate to and from Tweed-New Haven airport, its East Coast base, beginning May 26.
The destinations include Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI), Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), bringing the total number of destinations travelers will be able to fly to from the airport to thirteen. This is a continuation of the 2022 destination expansion Avelo announced and launched in February, with new flights from Tweed to Nashville, TN; Charleston, SC; Savannah GA; and Myrtle Beach, SC. These expansions demonstrate Avelo’s desire to break into the business travel market. Each route announced at Tuesday’s conference will have regular flights scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays once established.
“Great cities have great economies and they have great airports,” David Lehman, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, said during the event’s closing remarks. “And right alongside New Haven you have this airport developing.”
Lehman was joined by Avelo Airlines CEO Andrew Levy, Avports CEO Jorge Roberts, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, Veoci Software CEO Sukh Grewal, BioCT President and CEO Dawn Hocevar and Tweed Executive Director Sean Scanlon at the event.
“We believe these three new destinations will be a big hit with leisure and business travelers alike,” Levy said.
Roberts agreed, calling the partnership one that will “create a lot of economic opportunities” for the New Haven community. Both men emphasized the jobs directly created by Avelo Airlines — which has previously promised to double its amount of staff based in New Haven by the end of 2022 — in addition to the benefits of increased connectivity to major business centers.
Scanlon said the services Avelo is offering are “long overdue” for the city of New Haven.
“Avelo going to Chicago is really good because my in-laws live there,” Sukh joked in his remarks. On a more serious note, he said he appreciated that this would increase connectivity between Veoci Software’s base of operations in New Haven and its base of operations in Chicago.
Hocevar emphasized that the biotech industry in Connecticut was growing, but that she knew of business leaders that had been formerly dissuaded from opening headquarters in New Haven because it was “too cumbersome” to travel to the city.
Avelo’s growth has not come without pains, however. Traffic and noise complaints have plagued the airport during its brief tenure in New Haven.
Once all 13 routes at Tweed-New Haven airport are established, approximately 85 flights per week will be arriving and departing from the airport, which is likely to exacerbate pre-existing noise and traffic complaints.
Elicker acknowledged this in his remarks, stating that airport operators and stakeholders must remember that the airline “serves the community, but is also a servant to the local community.”
Scanlon later added that Elicker “never lets us forget that we have made common promises,” and that airport partners are working to “continually become better neighbors.”
Tweed has also faced backlash from environmentalist groups for proposed expansions to its runway and terminal. According to Scanlon, the environmental assessment for these projects is ongoing, but there are hopes to “break ground” on the runway expansion by next year, and begin terminal expansions by 2024.
Students weigh in on advantages and disadvantages of new Avelo options
Many students who live in North Carolina, Chicago, Baltimore and D.C. have responded to the news with enthusiasm, emphasizing that Avelo’s coming airlines might change the trajectory of their future commutes to and from Yale.
For North Caroliner KaLa Keaton ’25, her current form of transportation to Yale, which sums to a total of 16 hours via the Amtrak and American Airlines, presents a number of challenges that force her to consider both safety and financial reasons.
The transfers she has to make — combined with the fact that she books her flights to and from Hartford, requires additional Ubering, but “[her] parents are concerned about my safety Ubering 30+ minutes as a young female traveler on my own,” Keaton wrote to the News. She added that because of this, she has to be conscious of the safest times for her to travel, limiting her options and potentially requiring more expensive bookings and planning in advance. Mindful that her transportation is expensive, Keaton said she is thankful for her current scholarship funding and looks forward to taking the new flights to eliminate some of the financial challenges confronting her current travel route.
Breanna Nguyen ’25, also from North Carolina, agreed that student commute decisions are multi-faceted. In addition to the New Haven airport being significantly closer to Yale than the LaGuardia airport, where she currently goes to, “[the former is] … cheaper, so I will be looking into this for [the] next semester,” she said.
Valeria Ceron ’25 from Chicago, who currently flies out of BDL and into O’Hare to get home, also emphasized the role that cost plays in travel, saying that it is “a big factor for [her] family.” Like Keaton, Ceron often finds herself making bookings far in advance in order to avoid paying high fares and resorting to other strategies to reduce travel fees, such as splitting Uber fares with friends who are departing and arriving at the same times as her.
On a similar note, Chicagoan Ben Cifu ’24, who flies into New York or Bradley from Midway and then takes the train, said that he would consider switching to the Avelo Airlines route if the cost is less than what he currently pays for flying, taking the train and any associated transfers.
Students like Shan Lateef ’25, who lives in the D.C. region, are on the fence, currently weighing factors such as cost and the distance of the Thurgood Marshall airport to his home.
Monique Louis ’25 and Cindy Mei ’25, from Chicago, mentioned that the size of an airport can also impact incurred costs, saying that flying into smaller airports can be expensive. According to Mei, who currently takes a shuttle to the LaGuardia Airport and then flies to O’Hare, though the “new [Avelo] route [with Tweed and Midway] would be way more convenient” distance-wise, she would not be surprised if the prices for Midway and Tweed would be much higher due to their smaller sizes — compared to O’Hare’s “150-200 [dollars].”
Other students are choosing to stick with their current travel plans for non-financial reasons. For Valentina Simon ’25 and Kayla Yup ’25 — who are both staff reporters for the News — metro transit like the Amtrak remains a more convenient travel option than flying. Simon also said that Amtrak WiFi made it simple to do work while traveling, a sentiment echoed by Margaret Hankins ’24.
“It’s [also] kinda fun having the freedom to pick your seat on a train,” Yup said. “The 5 a.m. Amtrak is iconic.”
At the event, Avelo also celebrated flying more than 100,000 customers at Tweed.