New Dayton airline’s sales take off; city agrees to payments if airlines expand

Avelo Airlines is starting Dayton-Orlando service; city and JobsOhio offer financial guarantee to airlines that restore or add flights

Dayton’s new airline is off to a really good start with bookings, city officials said, and the city also is providing funding for a program to restore or add new air service at the airport.

“The good news is that as of last week, ticket sales on the new Avelo Airline were surpassing expectations,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

Avelo Airlines just started accepting reservations a week ago for its twice-weekly flights between the Dayton International Airport and Orlando, Florida, the theme park capital of the world.

The new service takes to the skies starting two months from now, and about 237 reservations were booked within 24 hours of the Nov. 3 announcement that Avelo was entering the Dayton market, city officials said.

Avelo is the first new airline to offer service at the Dayton airport since 2016, joining four other commercial airlines that currently operate at the aviation facility.

Avelo Airlines, a low-cost carrier, will begin service to the Orlando International Airport on Friday, Jan. 13, and flights will run on Fridays and Mondays.

The Dayton airport already has flights to Orlando through Allegiant airline, but they go through the Orlando Sanford International Airport and usually run Sundays and Thursdays, and sometimes on other days of the week, especially around the holidays.

Avelo said it wants to grow its service in Dayton if its Orlando flights are popular and if there’s evidence of strong demand for other destinations.

Dayton this week also approved funding for a program that guarantees that airlines that restore air service or add new flights to local markets will receive a certain amount of revenue.

Credit: Getty Images for Avelo Air

Credit: Getty Images for Avelo Air

The city commission this week approved an agreement that gives the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce $200,000 to help offer incentives meant to attract airlines to the Dayton airport or entice existing airlines to expand air service.

The chamber expects to work with JobsOhio on a minimum revenue guarantee agreement as part of the organization’s Commercial Air Service Restoration Program.

Minimum revenue guarantee agreements reduce the risk to airlines when they start new service by ensuring they will get a certain amount of money even if ticket sales and other revenues do not meet target levels.

Local partners are on the hook if airline revenues fall short of certain benchmarks. They have to make up the difference.

Dayton’s $200,000 contribution will be leveraged with an $800,000 grant from JobsOhio to provide guaranteed payments if new service cannot meet revenue projections, said Dickstein.

The city’s funding will make minimum revenue guarantee incentives available to new and existing airlines that add new routes to target destinations, said LaShea Lofton, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

Avelo likely qualifies for incentives based on the program’s guidelines and intent, she said, and any airline that wants to operate at the Dayton airport and that meets program criteria could qualify for incentives.

Chris Kershner, president and CEO at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said air service is a “critical economic driver” in the region and is in high demand among the local business community.

“The Dayton Area Chamber’s foundation is partnering with the city of Dayton, the region’s business community and JobsOhio to incentivize attracting new air service at the Dayton International Airport,” Kershner said. “This will be a performance-based incentive to recruit new air service at (the airport) and reduce the risk to entry for new service providers.”

JobsOhio is assisting Avelo with “performance-based support” through its air service restoration program, said Matt Englehart, a spokesman with the agency.

The Dayton airport is first and foremost a business travelers’ airport, Dickstein said, and the local business community likely will be called upon in the future to support air service restoration and expansion efforts.

Dickstein said the Dayton airport really could use flights to Denver and Boston.

Avelo right now has $49 one-way fares to Orlando, and the fares are expected to remain at that level for the rest of this week, said Courtney Goff, communications manager with Avelo Airlines.

Fares will slowly increase, but air travelers will not see a drastic change in prices, she said.

Initial bookings for the new service to Orlando got off to a really solid start, even though Avelo has seen higher initial demand in some other markets where the airline launched new service, she said.

Dayton’s ticket sales were “pretty strong,” she said. Avelo serves 34 markets.

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