After a couple of years of toying with the idea of serving Las Vegas, Avelo has finally decided to commit. It will open up a base at the airport this fall with one 737-700 and add service to three new cities while returning to another.
Long-time followers of Avelo — ok, it hasn’t been around for long, but you know what I mean — likely always expected to see the airline end up with a Las Vegas operation at some point. After all, CEO Andrew Levy used to run Allegiant, so he saw first-hand the power of having a Las Vegas base that could bring small town travelers on peak days to come visit.
The original Avelo plan was the opposite of that with bases like Burbank and New Haven — both meant more as origin points — but then the airline opened a base in Orlando. Orlando fits the Las Vegas mold much more as being more than anything… a destination. It showed that Avelo wouldn’t be against that type of operation.
Of course, even before that, Avelo had actually served Las Vegas. It actually started in September of 2021 when it routed an airplane from Burbank to Santa Rosa and on to Vegas before returning the same way. These were all sub 2-hour segments that allowed the airline to have its crews start and end the day in Burbank.
By November of 2021, it added Eureka/Arcata to the mix, followed by Fort Collins in December and Redding in January. At its peak, the airline was still very small with no more than 10 weekly departures from Las Vegas.
Most of that operation was dismantled as the airline downsized the Burbank operation. Only the Las Vegas – Santa Rosa flight remained, and that had dropped to a mere 2x weekly for this summer. But now, Avelo is back.
Avelo Las Vegas Operation
Starting in September, the airline will not only double Santa Rosa service from 2x to 4x weekly, it will also return to the Arcata/Eureka market and add three new cities: Brownsville, Dubuque, and Bend/Redmond.
Basing an airplane in Las Vegas creates vast new opportunities. Before, using the Burbank base when getting an airplane from Burbank to the spoke, down to Vegas, and then back using a single crew in a single day. This greatly limited the potential for Vegas, reducing its options to only those nearby cities that could keep crews under their daily limits.
Now as a base, Las Vegas crews can fly out and back, doing two flights in the time it had to operate four flights previously. And that extends the range to include much of the Midwest. Once the airplane gets back to Las Vegas, it can then turn around with a new crew and go elsewhere.
Here is a look at the planned schedule. I know this isn’t formatted in the best way, but you get the point:
With all these new opportunities available, Avelo has to find ones that are actually an option for the airline. Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit absolutely cover Las Vegas with flights to more cities than you’d ever expect to see at nearly any other airport. So where does Avelo find room?
So far, it has no interest in serving markets that have other airlines on the route. The closest is Bend/Redmond which had Allegiant service but lost it.
At least to start, it appears that the airline is focusing on just connecting dots to places it serves from other bases. That clearly explains all of these cities. And the longer distance flights to Dubuque and Brownsville? I imagine they’re paying something for this service. After all, with such limited service in general — Dubuque has no other airline — those airports need to invest in new service to prove it works.
Are there more options? Sure. Avelo could go back into other markets and connect the dots, places like Redding where it used to fly from Las Vegas could return, or maybe Fort Collins (CO) which used to have Avelo service but no longer does.
The biggest market with no service today is Madison (WI). That might be a future possibility, but it is already connected to Florida unlike the Dubuques and Brownsvilles of the world. You can move down the list to places like Jackson (MS), Corpus Christi, Baton Route… you get the idea. These are not huge markets by any stretch, but at 2x weekly on a 737-700, Avelo doesn’t need them to be huge. I don’t think it’s a mistake that Avelo went with a -700 instead of a -800 here. Bigger markets are not on the table, so a smaller plane is better.
This is very clearly going to have to a stimulation play, and it’ll be in markets where Allegiant hasn’t bothered to grow yet. That doesn’t seem like a big list, but when you consider that these small airports have plenty of money to try to prove that service will work, it should certainly be enough to make a single aircraft productive… and probably more.