Fewer than 100 days after the first flight took off, Charlottesville’s airport announced it has lost its direct service to Orlando.
The last Avelo Airlines flight between Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport and Orlando International Airport will be Sept. 4.
Low customer demand is to blame.
“We have decided to end Avelo service in Charlottesville,” Courtney Goff, spokeswoman for the Houston-based low-cost carrier, said in a statement. “This was not the outcome we envisioned when Avelo took flight at CHO on May 3, unfortunately, CHO has not been generating the demand we expected.”
The airline said that all customers who have tickets booked after Sep. 4 will be automatically refunded by the end of this week.
When the first Avelo airplane landed on the runway at CHO on May 3, it was greeted by bevy of University of Virginia cheerleaders, an animated Cav Man and a water salute. The celebration marked the restoration of a Charlottesville-to-Orlando route after CHO lost another low-cost carrier, Allegiant Air, which provided service to Orlando Sanford International Airport up until 2014.
Avelo offered one round trip each Friday and Monday.
“A passenger can choose whether they fly out on a Friday and come home on a Monday, or they can take a long week,” Jason Burch, then the airport’s chief operating officer, told The Daily Progress at the time. “You know, Orlando’s definitely got things to do for a long week.”
Burch, who will taking over as CEO next month, was credited as “instrumental” in the restoration of Orlando service by outgoing CEO Melinda Crawford.
Neither Burch nor airport officials made any mention of Avelo’s departure when announcing his promotion earlier this week.
Airport officials declined to provide any further details when contacted by The Daily Progress on Wednesday.
“Though we are disappointed that Avelo will cease their nonstop Orlando flights, we are thankful for their service to CHO and our region,” Crawford said in a statement. “Though we wish Avelo would have continued to serve CHO during our busy fall season, we respect the difficult decisions Ultra Low Cost Carriers (ULCCs), such as Avelo, must make as the air service industry environment continues to evolve.”
Avelo’s departure does not mean that business has taken a turn for the worse at the airport, according to Burch. As of this month, passenger count is back at 91% of what it was pre-pandemic, Crawford previously told The Daily Progress.
“The end of Avelo’s service in Charlottesville is by no means a negative reflection on the community,” Burch said in a statement. “Our existing services are performing great, and we will continue to work diligently with our airline partners on other expansion opportunities.”
Orlando was one of three direct routes restored at CHO this year.
In April, American Airlines began providing service to Philadelphia. Earlier this month, United Airlines began providing service to Chicago. Both of those routes are still in operation.