US air travel making a comeback

National News

American air travel is making a comeback.

This Memorial Day weekend, 60 percent more Americans are expected to travel, compared to this time last year.

The airline industry is also expanding; two new carriers have launched during the pandemic.

If you’re one of the more than 37 million Americans expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend, you now have a few cost-effective options at your disposal.

“A $19 flight. Doesn’t really get any cheaper than that,” said Dylan Herrera.

“We’re trying to go out there and give customers choice,” said Andrew Levy.

That’s how CEO Levy is bringing in demand for his new low-cost airline.

Avelo’s Hub is based in Burbank, California, and services 11 small airports.

“There may be other ways to get to these airports in the western U.S., maybe through LAX, maybe through a connection. But we’re trying to offer something that’s different to the customer, to the traveling public,” said Levy.

Last year, because of the pandemic, the airline suffered more than $370 billion in losses.

That led Boeing’s CEO to declare at least one airline would be pushed out of business. Instead, two new ones launched, Avelo and Breeze Airways, with goals to tackle smaller airports in the entire U.S.

“By the middle of the summer we’ll be in 15 cities,” said Breeze CEO David Neeleman.

Neeleman is also testing a new market, including from Hartford to Columbus, and Providence to Pittsburgh. Their fares run as low as $39.

“The U.S. airline industry is recovering. It is recovering faster and better than many expected,” said Henry Harteveldt, an airline travel expert.

Harteveldt says these new airlines will help drive competition, making flying better for the consumer.

“These are both budget-focused airlines, which means they’ll bring more low fare seats to more communities and that helps make air travel more accessible and affordable for everybody,” Harteveldt said.

While this weekend is a boon for smaller airlines, it is an open question as to if there is enough air travelers long-term to sustain them. The last U.S. airline to launch, Virginia America, folded back in 2018.

As for here at home, the state’s eight commercial airports saw a significant increase in passengers taking to the skies over the last month.

The state Aeronautics Commission says the eight airports collectively had about 62,000 passenger boardings in April alone.

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