Avelo Airlines will start flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Sarasota, Florida, from Wilmington in November.
The addition to Avelo’s 13 current destinations was the focus of a festive announcement Thursday on the Wilmington Airport’s tarmac.
“No surprises here,” said Delaware River & Bay Authority Deputy Director Stephen Williams to the large crowd gathered Thursday morning.
The airlines already had begun flying to Puerto Rico from other airports, so many people expected that destination to be part of the announcement today.
Carlos de los Ramos, chair of the Delaware Hispanic Commission and associate state chair of the Delaware chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons, thanks the airline and airport executives for their leadership and choice.
The only place de los Ramos likes to hear a flight is canceled, he said, was when he was in Puerto Rico, because it meant he could stay longer.
U.S. Census figures show that Puerto Ricans are 3% of Delaware’s population and the second-largest Hispanic or Latino group after Mexicans, the Delaware Business Times reported Thursday.
Avelo, a Houston, Texas company, already uses its two Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 aircraft to make nonstop flights to 13 destinations in five Southeast states.
The flights usually only leave and return to Wilmington twice a week.
The way to get more flights, New County County Executive Matt Meyer told the crowd, was to keep all of them full.
“This only will work if we take these flights,” Meyer said. “We’ll only get more than two flights a week if we fill those two flights a week. So, let’s use this. Let’s buy these tickets. Let’s expand airline service to make this a major destination for Puerto Ricans coming to the U.S.”
Avelo has flown more than 125,000 travelers since its first flight in February, airline officials said.
Puerto Rico flights
Flights to and from San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, Puerto Rico will have one-way fares that start at $99 Nov. 2.
Flights to and from Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) in Florida will start at $49 one way on Nov. 15.
Avelo also offers routes to and from Charleston, South Carolina; Daytona Beach, Florida; Fort Lauderdale/Miami, Florida; Fort Myers, Florida; Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina; Savannah, Georgia/Hilton Head, South Carolina; Tampa, Florida; West Palm Beach, Florida; ad Wilmington, North Carolina.
“It feels like I was just here,” joked Delaware Gov. John Carney, “because I was just here.”
He attended the April 20 announcement that added nine new destinations in the Southeast.
“But this announcement is different,” Carney said, “because it goes to the heart of one of the strongest communities in our state in our region, and that’s those of you who have roots in Puerto Rico.”
Like Meyer, he stressed that the flights need to be used.
“We’ve got to take those flights if they’re going to be successful and we keep the service,” Carney said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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