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Avelo touches down with a splash, new air route to Las Vegas

Avelo Airlines made a splash of sorts in Las Vegas Thursday.

The Houston-based air carrier, founded and headed by a former Allegiant Air executive, touched down on time in its inaugural flight to Las Vegas from Santa Rosa, California, and navigated beneath a ceremonial water arch as it pulled into a McCarran International Airport gate.

A return flight left McCarran on Thursday afternoon to Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport near Northern California’s wine country.

The company is promoting its Las Vegas service with one-way introductory fares purchased by Sept. 29, starting at $29 and available on flights through Jan. 11.

Round trips between Sonoma County and Las Vegas will operate Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays on 189-seat twin-engine Boeing 737-800 jets.

But Avelo founder, Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy hinted in an interview Thursday that there could be more Las Vegas flights in the new airline’s future.

“Las Vegas is a unique market with an unlimited amount of demand so I can say it’s highly likely we’ll be doing more there,” said Levy, who spent 14 years at Allegiant where he had risen to president of the company.

Levy recruited several other former Allegiant leaders to Avelo, including Greg Baden, who is chief operating officer, Todd Cinnamon, head of information technology, and Sean Hopkins, head of contracts.

Avelo launched its inaugural flight in April with a schedule that includes round trips from its operational hub at Hollywood Burbank Airport to Sonoma, Redding and Eureka, California; Medford, Eugene and Bend, Oregon; Ogden and Provo, Utah; Pasco, Washington; and Fort Collins, Colorado.

In December, Avelo will replicate its West Coast flight scheme, using New Haven, Connecticut, as its hub with round-trip flights to five destinations in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers.

On the East Coast, Avelo will operate 147-seat Boeing 737-700 twin-engine jets. The airline currently has three 737-800s and three 737-700s in its fleet. Two more 800s and two more 700s will be added later in the year.

Aircraft have either been acquired from or leased from Southwest Airlines, which is substituting some of its 800- and 700-series planes for MAX 7 and MAX 8 jets.

Levy attributes the hard work of the company’s “terrific management team” and its 220 employees for successfully launching an airline in the middle of a pandemic. He said that once Avelo begins its East Coast operations, the employee count will rise to about 300. No employees are based in Las Vegas, but that could change should operations grow. Avelo currently contracts for its ground operations at McCarran.

Levy said he has adopted operational strategies he likes from competitors and hires workers capable of implementing those strategies. The company has adopted “Soul of Service” culture grounded in a “One Crew” mindset that promotes teamwork, kindness and doing the right thing.

Levy said Avelo is a name agreed upon by his management team that blends “avenue,” connoting the hometown aspect of flights into small secondary airports, with “velocity.”

The company plans to launch a “Hello Avelo” campaign to help customers learn the pronunciation of the airline.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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