City News, ECONOMY

Avelo adds 3rd route, this time to Sonoma

Starting this spring, there will be a direct flight between Salem and California’s Bay Area.

Avelo Airlines announced Wednesday that it will add a third route serving Salem to the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, located about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco.

Flights will start May 3, with departures and arrivals on Mondays and Fridays. A round-trip ticket starts around $124 under the airline’s promotional pricing for the new route, without any add-ons like seat selection or extra bags. Flights can be booked through early September.

“Located near renowned vineyards and wineries, (Sonoma) offers the perfect entry point for those looking to explore a world-class wine scene,” Avelo said in a statement, plus drivable access to San Francisco and San Jose.

It’s the third location connected to Salem since the budget carrier began commercial air service at Salem Municipal Airport in October. Avelo launched service Oct. 5 with flights to Las Vegas and Burbank, California. 

In January, Avelo said it was “pleased” with ticket sales, with most flights to and from Salem being over 80% full according to Avelo spokeswoman Madison Jones. On Wednesday, she said Avelo is “still very encouraged by the Customer response in Salem for flights to Las Vegas and Burbank.” 

The airline operates eight weekly flights in and out of Salem. That will expand to 12 with the new route.

The city of Salem and local business groups spent millions to return commercial flights to the airport after Delta stopped service in 2008.

In January 2023, the Salem City Council approved spending $2.4 million from the city’s general fund to renovate and staff the airport, and used a $540,388 state grant to cover equipment and vehicle costs.

In 2022, as part of its effort to attract airlines, the city received an $850,000 federal grant and a $350,000 grant from Travel Salem using private donations to use for minimum revenue guarantees, money airlines can apply for if they fail to meet targets during the first few years of operation.

The airline requested a total of $24,800 of the funds in October, November and December 2023, said city spokeswoman Courtney Knox Busch.

“We are so excited to see this new route added to Avelo’s service from Salem. This is great news for the Willamette Valley and our economy,” said Mayor Chris Hoy in a statement shared by Avelo. “Avelo’s success in Salem is a testament to our community and our investment in the Salem Municipal Airport terminal for commercial passenger service.”

Hoy was among the passengers on the inaugural flight to Las Vegas, along with Travel Salem President Angie Villery and Salem Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Hoffert, who advocated for investment in the airport.

CORRECTION: Due to information previously provided by the city of Salem, this article misstated whether Avelo has asked for money to cover revenue guarantees. The airline has requested $24,800 for October-December 2023. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.