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MCKENZIE LANGE/The Daily Sentinel

A passenger wheels his luggage to the Grand Junction Regional Airport entrance on Thursday. A new carrier, Avelo Airlines, is coming to Grand Junction and will fly to Burbank, California, beginning in May.

The Grand Junction Regional Airport has a new airline.

Avelo Airlines, a low-cost airline in its infancy, announced Thursday it would add Grand Junction to its service area from the Hollywood Burbank Airport in California. The first flight from Grand Junction is May 9 and it will run in the evenings four days a week. Tickets will begin as low as $19 one way.

“This addition is a testament to our community,” said Angela Padalecki, executive director at the airport. “They’ve shown that if airlines add new service, people will respond by showing up.”

Avelo is a point-to-point airline, meaning that it goes from Point A to Point B with no connecting flights. All of its 11 destinations connect through Burbank. The airline’s other destinations feature three stops in California and Oregon, one in Montana, one in Arizona, one in Utah and one in Washington.

The airline was founded by Andrew Levy. According to Levy’s bio on the Avelo website, he was the co-founder of Allegiant Air. He also served as the chief financial officer of United Airlines.

Levy began raising capital for Avelo before the COVID-19 pandemic began. While the world began shutting down, he was able to bide time, hire a staff dedicated to serving people — a soul for service, as he says — and get investors on board.

“I think this is a hard industry,” Levy told The Daily Sentinel. “You have to do something different, you have to go your own path.”

Doing something different is how Allegiant grew, Levy said, and it’s how Avelo will grow as well.

Avelo’s path is serving markets that don’t have flights to Burbank. By meeting that need at a low price, air travelers will be able to go to southern California and avoid the LAX headache, Levy said.

“We think Grand Junction is a good market and it’s underserved,” he said. “We’ll stimulate the demand with our low fees.”

Avelo will operate three Boeing 737-800 planes and will seat up to 189 people, Padalecki said. Planes will arrive and depart within the 7 p.m. hour, though that is subject to change depending on the day.

According to an Avelo news release, the airline is backed by $125 million in private equity. The airline will initially fly 11 non-stop routes out of Burbank with some destinations starting as early as April 28.

Padalecki said it’s refreshing to add a new airline and destination to the airport after the industry was hit hard by the pandemic.

“It’s so fulfilling to reach the finish line here and deliver something great for a community that has given us so much,” she said. “When airlines add routes, our community responds. And that’s not the case everywhere.”

For Levy, he thinks that now is the perfect time for Avelo to take off.

“I believe we’re at the tail end of the pandemic. Vaccinations are increasing and people have the pent-up demand to travel,” Levy said. “And we’re going to be there ready to serve them.”

Avelo’s leadership team has more than 200 years of collective aviation experience, the news release said. In addition to Allegiant and United, Avelo’s leadership team includes former senior executives from Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Northwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines, the release said.

Allegiant Air currently serves Grand Junction with flights to Las Vegas. In mid-February, the airline also had its first flight take off from Grand Junction to Orange County.

The Grand Junction airport is looking at adding a future United flight to San Francisco, possibly starting in 2022.