Passengers line up Wednesday morning for the first direct flight from Mobile International Airport to Orlando via Avelo Airlines. (Arthur Mack/Call News)
The Avelo Airlines Boeing 737 prepares to take off from Mobile to Orlando Wednesday. (Arthur Mack/Call News)
By ARTHUR L. MACK
A large crowd took advantage of Avelo Airlines’ introductory $29 one-way fare from Mobile International Airport at the Brookley Complex to Orlando Wednesday morning.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a water cannon salute, more than 100 passengers boarded the Boeing 737 for the first flight. Among them were Mobile City Councilmember Ben Reynolds and his daughters Pippa and Annie, who were flying for the first time.
“The Brookley airport is equipped very well to handle these sorts of airlines,” Reynolds said. “This is vital to the future of the airport.”
Marcy Brown of Creola and Jill Luellen of Birmingham were flying to Orlando to celebrate each other’s birthdays. Both have been friends for 35 years and could not pass up the opportunity.
“We were debating on whether to go this year and we figured we would try Orlando,” Brown said. “There were some really good prices. The last few years, we traveled on Jill’s birthday and this time we decided to do it on mine.”
Mobile Airport Authority president Chris Curry said it was an exciting day for Avelo, the Mobile Airport Authority and the Mobile International Airport.
“We get to do a lot of good at one time,” he said. “There’s the excitement about the Mobile International Airport and direct service from Avelo to one of the premier destinations in the United States, so we’re pretty excited.”
Avelo announced plans in March to fly direct from Mobile to Orlando and customers took advantage of the low introductory fare. The response was so strong that Avelo announced it would extend the introductory fare through June 15.
Avelo has established itself as one of the most reliable airlines in the industry in just two years. It had no cancellations in May.
“It’s a super exciting day,” Avelo Airlines director of communications Jim Olson said. “Our purpose is to inspire travel and we do that by making it easy and affordable for folks to get to places where they want to go. Mobile International Airport is the ideal place for Avelo — we require the simplicity, the speed. This is the kind of airport we love to fly out of and you can tell by the number of customers who have booked flights out of this area.”
Olson said Avelo is providing the only non-stop flight to Orlando from Mobile.
“If you want to get to Orlando fast and orderly, this is the way to go,” Olson said.