Levy is a former Allegiant Air and United Airlines executive who has finally achieved a yearslong dream of starting an airline.
Avelo’s strategy is straight out of the low-cost-carrier playbook first written by Southwest Airlines in the 1970s and copied by others, including Allegiant. Part of that strategy involves sticking to secondary airports that have lower costs and less congestion — planes land, take on new passengers, and take off quickly, spending more time in the air and less on the ground.
“It’s not that it hasn’t been done before, it’s just that it hasn’t been done in a really long time — staying away from the really big airports wherever it is possible,” Levy says.
One of Avelo’s first destinations, Ogden, Utah, “is a nice, convenient, easy-to-navigate airport,” he says. “There are a lot of those around the country that have been unserved or at least underserved. Those are the markets we’re going to target.”
Allegiant is the only airline currently flying to Ogden, and only from Phoenix, while nearly a dozen carriers compete at nearby Salt Lake City.
Avelo’s first flight on April 28 will be from Burbank to Santa Rosa, in Northern California's wine country. No other airline flies that route, although Alaska Airlines goes to Santa Rosa from John Wayne Airport, about a 90-minute drive from Burbank.
The airline will fly 189-seat Boeing 737-800 planes, which are plentiful and, Levy says, a bargain on the used-plane market. The planes won't have on-board internet access, at least not this year.
Avelo launched with $19 promotional fares. Like other budget airlines, Avelo will charge extra for many options, including an assigned seat and carry-on bags that go in the overhead bins.
Costs at a start-up airline “are real easy to forecast; the revenue is the hard part,” Levy says. If Avelo hits revenue targets, “we will definitely be profitable before the end of this year, and 2022 will be a profitable year.” That is roughly the same outlook that analysts have for major U.S. airlines, which are known commodities with established customer bases.