Avelo has announced its initial schedule for service at its second base, New Haven, and this airport will be structured differently than Burbank for a few reasons. First, there is very limited space, but second, the flight times are longer. You can see pretty clearly how the puzzle has been put together for the first month, but it looks like growth is likely to be coming soon after.
One of the great things about New Haven is that it is highly constrained. This gives Avelo the ability to basically take over the terminal, preventing others from serving the airport until the new, larger terminal is built a few years down the line. But one of the bad things about New Haven is that… it’s highly constrained.
With few flights possible, Avelo has done the smart thing and decided to point its airplanes south toward the bottomless pit of demand that is Florida. It is also focusing on primary airports in Florida which I see as a very good thing since New Haven is secondary. You don’t want secondary airports on both ends… and this is obviously very different than what Avelo is doing in Burbank.
You’d think for a heavy leisure airline like Avelo, you’d want to schedule as many flights in the morning down to Florida as you can and then return in the afternoon. The terminal space and aircraft utilization say otherwise. So, here’s what the airline is doing starting in November:
- Fort Lauderdale (Mon/Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun): 9am departure south, 12:10pm departure north
- Fort Myers (Thu/Sun): 2:30pm departure south, 6:30pm departure north
- Orlando (Mon/Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun): 7:30am departure south, 11:05am departure north
- Tampa (Mon/Fri/Sat): 2:30pm departure south, 6:15pm departure north
If you look in graphical form, you can see that Avelo is scheduling two airplanes, and one is being scheduled for only half the day.
This is the schedule Avelo announced, but what it didn’t say is that this schedule ends on December 6 and it looks like a third aircraft will be scheduled starting that day. The number of flights won’t change… yet… but the schedules sure do.
- Fort Lauderdale (Mon/Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun): 8:30am departure south, 12:20pm departure north
- Fort Myers (Thu/Sun): 2:25pm departure south, 6:25pm departure north
- Orlando (Mon/Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun): 10am departure south, 1:35pm departure north
- Tampa (Mon/Fri/Sat): 3:55pm departure south, 7:40pm departure north
The way that Avelo has put together these flights, there is never a departure from New Haven within 1.5 hours of another. There is never more than one airplane on the ground at a time… except for the overnight sits. That’s probably due to the crushingly small footprint of the gate area. In fact, here’s a photo I took of a traveler entering the terminal.
Up until now, the only flight operating at the airport was American with a 5x weekly run to Philly on a regional jet. That ends on September 30, and then Avelo moves in a month later, but Avelo’s airplanes hold about double American’s with 147 seats, so it’s going to be quite the dance to make all this work.
At first blush, this schedule looked rather odd to me since it underutilizes three airplanes. On Thursday and Sunday the flights all overlap, so each airplane will do one roundtrip. But then I put this into graphical form and it made more sense.
In Burbank, there are more gates and the flights are shorter, so you see airplanes running up to three roundtrips per day. But for New Haven to Florida, flights run in the 3 hour range, and that means they’ll be lucky to squeeze two roundtrips in.
It looks like Fort Lauderdale gets the prime spot with the first scheduled morning departure. Orlando gets second place with the next available one. Why not keep Orlando earlier like it was originally? Well, I’m guessing it figures the early return time isn’t great, so it’s better to do a later morning flight down with an early afternoon return. Having the third airplane enables that.
But whenever a 7am departure does appear, that looks like it’ll fit perfectly to turn into the afternoon Fort Myers roundtrip (two days a week). And then Tampa turns off the Fort Lauderdale airplane three days a week.
With spacing requirements, Avelo can get 6 departures per day using 3 airplanes. If we assume that Avelo does not want to operate on Tuesday/Wednesday, that means it could double the number of flights it has scheduled now from 15x weekly to 30x weekly… if it’s willing to operate at less-peak times.
On Monday/Friday/Saturday, it has one aircraft that’s entirely unscheduled, so that could do an early morning departure and a mid-afternoon second trip. There is also room for the Orlando airplane to turn somewhere else once it gets back in the afternoon.
On Thursday/Sunday, Avelo could plug in a 7am departure before the airplane turns to Fort Myers. It can also schedule an afternoon departure off both the Fort Lauderdale and Orlando flights when those get back after their morning runs.
The other option here is to try to do something that’s a shorter flight, but that starts getting sticky. For example, after the 10am flight to Orlando goes, Avelo could schedule a flight at 11:30am on Monday/Friday/Saturday. It would just have to be back and gone again by 2:25pm to make room for the next airplane. That isn’t enough time to do anything useful.
I’m sure there are other ways to try to construct this with non-Florida destinations, but the terminal constraints are going to cause real headaches. Help is on the way to some extent, and it doesn’t require waiting for the new terminal to eventually get built. Avelo spokesperson Jim Olson told me that the airline “should have terminal build out complete by December which will accommodate more robust schedule.” That’s all temporary work, but how much more it will allow remains to be seen.
Of course, if Avelo finds itself desperately trying to find room for more capacity, that will be a very nice problem for the airline to have.