Avelo Airlines CEO talks about GJ flights | Western Colorado

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It’s not just Burbank, California that residents of Grand Junction can fly to, it’s also Hollywood, Los Angeles and, lastly, the entire West Coast that is truly open to area travelers, thanks to a new startup, Avelo Airlines.

To take a route from rival Southwest Airlines, residents of western Colorado are now free to travel to at least part of the country on Avelo, which began taking off from Grand Junction Regional Airport last month. .

This is sort of the point – and the vision – of Avelo CEO Andrew Levy when he added Grand Junction to a long list of direct flights offered by the new airline from similarly sized cities around west to Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Instead of having to fly into LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), travelers can have the ease and convenience of flying into a smaller airport, but much closer to vacation destinations such as the San Fernando Valley, Walt Disney Studios, downtown LA, and of course, the expansive California beaches, to name a few places to go.

“These airports have to spend more money to support the level of growth, or they can just increase their fares because they can,” Levy told the Daily Sentinel editorial board on Thursday. “In any case, these airports are more and more congested, more expensive. The ground traffic is just horrible to get there. So I think that’s where these secondary airports that we’re targeting as a base become more and more attractive because it’s such a different experience.

Hollywood Burbank Airport, located approximately 12 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, provides easier access not only to Californians wishing to travel to Grand Junction, Eugene, Oregon, Provo, Utah or the one of the eight other secondary airports. Avelo files in seven western states, but also for residents of these cities who wish to travel to the coast.

Although it has technically been around for a few years, Avelo is basically just getting started. Levy originally bought a smaller charter jet company called Xtra Airways in 2018 (formerly known as Casino Express Airlines) and has worked ever since to make it a low cost airline for the mainstream.

This plan was almost ready to launch early last year, but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this delay was frustrating for Levy, who had been studying the idea of ​​starting a new low-cost airline for years, he was able to take advantage of some of the things the pandemic has done, like keeping loan rates low and buying or rent planes at a discount price, some up to 30%.

“We were certainly able to take advantage of different aircraft fares than we would have had before the pandemic, without a doubt, and it continues to this day,” he said. “Even though the US market is doing quite well, the rest of the world is in various stages of disarray. The aircraft market therefore remains very attractive. It is a global market.

The result, at least for the consumer, is that Avelo is able to offer cheaper flights, most for less than $ 100 and some as little as $ 60 for a one-way trip, according to the booking site of the airline company, book.aveloair.com.

The airline operates from two gates at the Hollywood Burbank Airport, which has 14 gates, and is much smaller than its main rival, Southwest. But it’s not trying to duplicate what this long-established airline does.

Instead, it’s marketing to leisure travelers, not so much to business travelers.

Levy cut his teeth for decades working for airlines such as United, Allegiant and ValuJet.

He also worked in several venture capital firms, specializing in the airline industry, which gave him the necessary experience to invest in this new company.

“We are very optimistic about the market and believe it can work for the long term,” Levy said. “Cheap service, cheap airline tickets, in my mind you want to tackle the mass market, and the mass market mainly cares about the price.”

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