The State of Delaware is definitely a SMALL WONDER!
If you live in Delaware and have driven north on Route 13, you may wonder why we have an airport but no major airlines flying out of it. Well that is about to change with the arrival of Avelo Airlines landing in Wilmington on Wednesday, February 1st.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Stephen Williams on “Out & About with Antionette” podcast.
Stephen is the Executive Director of ILG Wilmington Airport. He was selected as only the 3rd Deputy Director in the history of Delaware River and Bay Authority. In this capacity, he focuses on Authority-related economic development initiatives; plans internal and external communication strategies; handles governance matters; serves as the Board Secretary and fosters ongoing working relationships with state and local officials.
Mr. Williams, who previously taught airport planning and operations management at the Farmingdale State University of NY, from 2001-2004, continues to instruct as an adjunct professor of aviation at Delaware State University.
Mr. Williams also serves as the Director of Airports for the DRBA, and began his official duties in January 2018, and is proud to be hosting the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Avelo Airlines on February 1st.
According to Stephen, he is a self proclaimed “AV Geek”, a kid who grew up close to JFK airport and loved watching the planes, he has always had a love for all things aviation. This love was just one of the reasons that he took the job as Deputy Executive Director as he wanted to help improve the airport’s portfolio especially here in Delaware.
Stephen is looking to grow the relationship organically and feels that it will be successful because there were a lot of things that were done previously by others that didn’t work. The thought is, “if we could do something differently here, if we can hit the Sweet Spot”, then it will work but it is a story that is still being written and Stephen will continue to bang the drums for success.
He understands that unfortunately, sometimes in aviation there’s a lack of promotion but knows that this is about an opportunity for our citizens, it’s an opportunity for vendors and business owners as well. If you think about it, there are many people who love to travel and they want to travel with convenience and that is what we want to offer here.
The question: “why can’t we support our Delaware citizens when it comes to air travel?” needed to be addressed. Why should people who live in Delaware spend money in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland to get air service? Why do folks have to leave the state to fly out of Philadelphia or Baltimore, or in some cases some folks in Sussex County even drive to Salisbury, Maryland for air service.
So why should we have to leave the state? Because when we leave, the tax dollars leave; opportunities to spend money leaves; the money spent at the parking garage leaves; money spent to fuel the car to travel to the airport leaves; money spent to buy food at the airport leaves; and all those ticket tax dollars goes to those states, none of it is kept in Delaware. The state in which we live so why can’t we capture some of that here? Why can’t some of that spend stay here?
That being said, ILG Wilmington had to find a way to match some of what can be found at BWI or PHL. Stephen stated that it has been a long gestation period and they have been working with Avelo Airlines for over two and a half years to make this happen. Behind the scenes there is a lot of metrics and data involved which included convincing Avelo Airlines why it was going to work for them.
Airplanes are very expensive and Avelo Airlines is making an investment by taking an asset that could be used to fly from New York to Las Vegas or New York to Chicago and they’re taking a chance on using it to fly from Delaware to Florida, so we had to make sure that it would work for them as well as for the citizens in Delaware.
Stephen and I both agreed that people are ready. We are seeing major shifts in air travel, for everyone, as it is no longer the domain for the rich and the famous. Flying is accessible for the general public and people are taking full advantage of this.
The public investment in aviation should be realized by everyone including the citizens of Delaware and Stephen takes that very seriously. He is looking at it from a public service perspective, for lifelong Delaware residents as well as for the new folks who have recently moved here and want the convenience of air travel.
Low cost travel and leisure travel has become affordable and attainable for most people, so that’s what Avelo Airlines is doing in Delaware. By making flying affordable and comfortable they hope to reach a large sector.
However, they also understand that they are not going to be the choice for everyone, as passengers are not going to get the big city experience. Passengers shouldn’t expect Frequent Flyer perks; they are not going to get the First Class Lounge experience with gourmet restaurants; but what they will get is a hassle-free, manageable flight experience for themselves and for their family at an airport that really does it differently and wants to make it succeed.
There is a segment of the flying public that has come to enjoy flying inexpensively whereas in the past perhaps they had to take a bus or board an Amtrak train to get to their destination. Flying has become more affordable and people are willing to take advantage of the opportunity for the convenience of doing so.
People are now willing to spend more on entertainment and on their travel to visit friends and family and it has become commonplace now. It’s not so much that you jump in the car and drive, which some people will continue to do, but now they can fly there inexpensively or relatively inexpensively as opposed to what they could do 10 or 15 years ago.
So with the introduction of low-cost airlines of which Avelo Airlines is one, they have made flying accessible and is a value for quality air service for the general public.
With the arrival of Avelo Airlines, we will have an airline that is based in Wilmington, with staff and crews, and a lot of expensive equipment so they are making a commitment to put down roots in Wilmington.
Avelo Airlines is a startup that has been in business for less than two years but they have done particularly well in New Haven, Connecticut. New Haven, similar to Wilmington, is a small city outside of a metro area, Hartford, which has a larger airport close by, similar to what we have with PHL. They have had tremendous success in their first year, and so Avelo is looking for the same results in Wilmington.
Avelo Airlines is committed and signed a five-year agreement with a five year option. They intend to be here for the long haul, they’re making the investment in people. They’re making the investment in marketing with billboards and radio ads.
Avelo Airlines wants to be our air carrier of choice for all things Florida as they have scheduled weekly service to Orlando, and South Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
The terminal is ready with more improvements planned for the future. There are two parking lots with a mobile app making it convenient to pay and go and DART Bus Service stops at the airport as well.
Another top seller for Delawareans is that we can drive to the airport in Wilmington, check in and be on the plane in less than 2 hours. Arrive at the airport an hour before departure with an online check-in boarding pass which is encouraged, is going to make the process even better for the passengers.
Go to AveloAir.com to book your flights today!!! FlyILG.com is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too.