Courtesy of Jim Olson

One million soars may sound unpleasant, but for Avelo Airlines, it beckons celebration.

Last Friday, Avelo Airlines celebrated flying out its millionth customer from the Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport. The flight, which departed at 2:25 p.m. from Tweed to Fort Myers, Florida, marked a triumphal milestone for the airline company, which commenced operations at the airport a mere year-and-a-half ago.

“It was really a validation for our purpose to inspire travel,” Avelo Airlines Head of Communications Jim Olson told the News. “Before we came to Tweed, we’d only just launched an airline a few months earlier in Los Angeles. It was a testament to the affordability, convenience, and reliability that we’re offering.”

To commemorate the accomplishment, Avelo Airlines gifted the 182 passengers of last Friday’s free flight tickets. The event boasted appearances from the CEO of Avports — the airport operations and management company that manages Tweed — Jorge Roberts, Mayor Justin Elicker and state representatives. 

“There are so many people from our community that are getting jobs in this airport,” Elicker said at the event. “At all levels of the economic spectrum, that is a great thing for us.” 

Avelo Airlines arrived at Tweed in November 2021 and offered a few nonstop Florida destinations that quickly took off in popularity. Travelers — from Connecticut residents with second homes in Florida to frantic tourists — rapidly decided to utilize Tweed’s newfound convenience.

“I can’t tell you how many times a week I hear about somebody else who’d never flown before or very rarely was able to fly and suddenly they’re flying multiple times a year because air travel became accessible, affordable and convenient,” Tweed’s spokesperson Andrew King told the News.  

King attributes Avelo’s expansive growth to creating 300 new jobs in Tweed. He also claimed that the New Haven airport is the second most underserved airline market in the country. 

The increased traffic through Tweed has also benefited restaurants and cafes operating within its terminals. 

Christian Festa, co-owner of G Cafe Bakery at Tweed New Haven Airport, told the News that within a year they have been able to increase from just a few employees to over 11 in both locations. 

“The growth at Tweed has been great,” Festa wrote in an email to the News. “We made a decision early on to take a bet on Tweed. Since G Café Bakery started service in the terminal, our bakery products have been exposed to over 1 million passengers.”

Tweed’s future plans include extending the current runway to accommodate a more extensive network of airline travel and increased traffic. The airport is currently attempting to pass an environmental assessment test in order to secure their future plans.

The study shows that Tweed expects 1.2 million passengers to come through the airport on an annual basis, according to King. The airport went from zero to 330,000 passengers in 2022.

King noted that the New York Times recently listed New Haven in their 52 Places to Go in 2023. This recognition is a promising sign for Tweed, its workers and the greater New Haven community to welcome new tourists, he said. 

 “New Haven is on the map,” King commented. “There was a really great meeting a week ago about the possibilities that are in front of us as a city with that sort of recognition that people see the good things that are here and now there’s a way to easily get there.” 

Tweed-New Haven Airport was founded in 1931.