ILM adds low-cost carrier and more nonstop routes
NEW HANOVER COUNTY — At a time when people are eager to travel — after two years of pandemic-induced restrictions — but may be strapped for cash due to record inflation rates, Wilmington International Airport is offering more affordable options. And a budding carrier.
Airport officials announced Thursday that ILM will offer three new nonstop routes to New Haven, Orlando and Baltimore/DC beginning July 1 with low-cost carrier Avelo. The airline was launched exactly one year ago in Los Angeles and now flies to 27 destinations.
“The reduced fares have arrived,” ILM Airport Manager Jeff Bourke exclaimed to an audience of local officials and media at a press conference in ILM’s baggage screening area. ILM Thursday.
An inaugural flight will take off June 30 from ILM to Tweed-New Haven Airport in Connecticut. One-way tickets will be available three days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays — starting at $39.
“It’s the gateway to New England and an hour by train from New York City,” Avelo communications manager Courtney Goff told the crowd. “And you don’t have to deal with LaGuardia and Newark and all that chaos.”
Avelo – known for serving smaller secondary airports – launched its East Coast operation in November with Connecticut as its home port.
Passengers will be able to fly one-way from ILM to Orlando and Baltimore on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets to Orlando will start at $49 and passengers to Baltimore can purchase seats from $29.
The route to Baltimore/Washington International Airport will be seasonal only and will operate until Labor Day. Avelo will likely offer other destinations during the offseason, Goff said. She hinted at another stop in Florida or maybe somewhere in the Midwest.
Goff explained that Avelo’s business model includes an “à la carte” way of traveling to keep prices low. The departure fee only includes a one-way seat on one of Avelo’s next-generation Boeing 737s. There’s a $40 (online) to $50 (at the gate) fee for a carry-on bag, and it’s an additional $35 to $45 for the first checked bag.
“It lets the customer decide how much they’re going to spend,” Goff added. “If they take all the luggage, the costs will go up a bit.”
Avelo customers never pay cancellation or change fees, and Goff expects the competition to impress other airlines as well.
“Flights are expensive on older carriers,” she said. “I know that as a consumer and in the industry. If we can come in and offer these flights to other cities not offered by other airlines, not only will that give ILM more options, but it will entice these guys to lower their prices a bit.
With the addition of three new routes, ILM can serve 15% more passengers, said airport authority president Donna Girardot.
She added that each nonstop flight operated year-round at ILM generates an economic impact of approximately $35 million and creates 90 jobs.
To help with this growth, the airport authority has worked with the county’s Tourism Development Authority. The TDA voted earlier this month to spend $125,000 on destination marketing per new route. This builds on the airport’s incentive program to bring more flights to Wilmington. The incentive is funded in part by the 6% occupancy tax on hotel rooms.
“It’s just a small part of this ongoing partnership that has allowed us to be attractive to Avelo and other airlines,” Girardot said.
Tickets are available now for Avelo flights departing from ILM.
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