Avelo Airlines announces service from New Haven to Puerto Rico

Flying to the Caribbean is about to get easier. Avelo Airlines announced new nonstop service from Tweed-New Haven Airport to Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
The new route is a critical link for Connecticut’s sizeable Boricua community, but airport neighbors are protesting the change.
“HELLO AVELO”
Singers and traditional drummers heralded the announcement on Tweed’s tarmac, singing, “Hello, Avelo!” to a crowd of reporters.
When the flights launch on Nov. 15, they will be Tweed Airport's first direct service to the Caribbean.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. “Hello, Avelo!”
This is the airline’s 18th destination from New Haven – and a critical link for southwestern Connecticut's Puerto Rican population. “There's over 300,000 Puerto Ricans in the state of Connecticut,” said Joseph Rodriguez, with Puerto Ricans United. “Roughly 90,000 alone in the New Haven-Milford metro area.”
Initially, the new flights will only run on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Introductory base fares start at $99 per person.
In June, Spirit Airlines launched non-stop flights to San Juan from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. But the carrier also dropped service to Montego Bay, Jamaica – despite state bond money allocated for it.
BUMPY RIDE
Avelo leaders were all smiles at Tuesday’s announcement, but the low-cost carrier has had a bumpy ride.
This spring, several flights were diverted to Bradley, 55 miles away. Frustrated passengers had to find their own way back to New Haven. Although Avelo reimbursed them, flyers complained of poor customer service. Other flights were sent to Wilmington, Del., and Washington-Dulles Airport.
In most cases, Tweed’s notoriously thick fog was to blame. But Avelo’s chief financial officer said the airline is learning ways to manage.
“We're investing in technology to try to mitigate the times that it happens. We have people that are resourced now to go to Hartford to help our customers get to where they need to go when that happens,” said Avelo CFO Hunter Keay. “We're investing in some technology that should help functionally reduce the ceiling and improve visibility. That's maybe a year or two away potentially. We'll see if that works.”
Keay noted that diversions have happened on only 1% of the carrier’s New Haven schedule.
NEIGHBORS PROTEST
Outside the airport, more than a dozen neighbors protested Avelo’s announcement.  
“My sign says, 'Tweed – Traffic, Water pollution, Ecocide, Ear-splitting noise, and Disease,” said Mary Cannata of East Haven.
Neighbors are fighting a planned runway expansion that could pave the way for more flights and additional airlines at Tweed.
“When planes fly really low over a roof, they cause this sucking up, and my shingles flap and I can hear them,” said neighbor Lianne Audette
Tom Rafter, the executive director of Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority, said the expansion could actually be good for neighbors – particularly plans to build a new terminal.
“Simply moving the terminal out of a community and into a more industrial, compatible land use will be significant,” he said. “It'll improve the ground noise issues.”
Rafter said the Federal Aviation Administration could sign off on the plan as early as this fall, with a new runway and terminal debuting in as little as two years.