Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport welcomed the inaugural flight of their new carrier Avelo Airlines from Orlando, Fla, with a water canon arch and ribbon cutting Wednesday morning.
Airport Executive Director, Michael Giardino, took the flight from Orlando.
“It was a great flight, it left early and it was outstanding. We are thankful they are here. The community deserves a direct flight such as this,” he said.
Lindsey Carny Smith, Chair of the Airport Commission, said, “I am convinced the community will support this.”
Flights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport start at $49 one way. The airline will fly on Sundays and Thursdays. The Newport News airport is the first Virginia airport to have Avelo, according to Courtney Goff, communications manager for Avelo.
In operation for just 14 months, the airline serves primarily the east and is expanding to the mid-west. More than 1.2 million passengers have flown on over 10,000 flights. The company’s success began by establishing themselves in underserved routes. Williamsburg-Newport News International Airport’s only other carrier is American Airlines.
All flights, on a Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft, are direct. Goff said this gives Avelo an advantage over other airlines in competing for pilots, of which there is a nationwide shortage.
“Because they are flying shorter flights, they can sleep in their own bed each night. That makes it nice for the flight crew. It offers them a work/life balance,” she said.
There is no first class, however, there are seats with extra leg room and advance seat selection for an additional charge. Seating overall is more spacious than most airplanes. Passengers can also pay for priority boarding, checked bags, carry-on overhead bags, and bringing a pet in the cabin. The airline does not charge for canceling or changing a flight.
Neil Rosenbaum, of Newport News, was taking a flight to Orlando to visit his parents.
“This is great. My daughter was able to drop me off on her way to work. Nice not to have to go to Norfolk or Richmond,” he said.