Southern Connecticut is an underserved air transport market where low-fare airline operations could draw local passengers away from larger airports in New York and Hartford, Connecticut, Avports CEO Jorge Roberts (pictured left) told the Routes Americas 2021 conference in Orlando on June 23.
Regional airports management company Avports is leading a $100 million capital improvement program at Tweed New Haven Airport (HVN), a project that has US startup Avelo Airlines on board to make HVN its first East Coast base.
Avelo has committed $1.2 million towards the $100 million capital-improvement plan.
Located about 60 mi. south of Hartford’s Bradley International Airport (BDL) and 80 mi. northeast of New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) airports, HVN aligns with Avelo’s strategy to serve smaller, secondary airports that offer an alternative to larger, established hubs.
Avelo recently launched its inaugural flights out of Burbank Airport (BUR) near Los Angeles. Its current route map covers 10 cities, all in the western US.
HVN’s only current service is daily American Airlines regional service to Philadelphia (PHL).
Roberts noted that passengers in the HVN catchment area are driving 2.5 hours to LGA or JFK or 1.5 hours to BDL rather than utilizing HVN. The lack of airline service at HVN is an “infrastructure problem, not a market problem,” Roberts said.
Avports’ expansion plans at HVN include extending the 5,600-ft. main runway by 1,000 ft., upgrading the existing passenger terminal and building an all-new LCC terminal. Avports, which has managed HVN for more than two decades, has signed a letter of intent to fund most of the improvements and then lease and operate the revamped airport for 43 years before turning it back over to the city.
“We are going to build a financially and environmentally stable airport,” Roberts said.
Avelo plans to base three Boeing 737-700s at HVN by the end of the year. The carrier has indicated it wants to upgrade to 737–800s once all the improvements at the airport are completed. “There is a lot of demand for people to pay lower fares” to fly out of HVN, Roberts said.
Specific Avelo routes from HVN have yet to be revealed. Roberts said the airline plans to serve Florida from HVN.
Photo credit: Craig Huey