Ogden Airport 06

The Ogden-Hinckley Airport is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. 

OGDEN — Nearly a decade after launching commercial air service to Arizona, Ogden City’s municipal airport will soon offer similar service to California.

Fledgling budget air carrier Avelo Airlines announced Thursday it would begin offering nonstop air service to 11 destinations across the western U.S., including Ogden. Flights between the Ogden-Hinckley Airport and the Hollywood Burbank Airport are now open for booking at aveloair.com. The new service will begin May 4 with one-way fares starting at $19.

“Avelo has a simple purpose — to inspire travel,” Avelo founder and CEO Andrew Levy said in a statement. “People are ready to reconnect with family and friends and explore new places.”

Levy said Avelo was “built from scratch” with affordable and convenient travel service in mind.

The airline’s leadership team represents more than 200 years of collective aviation experience, according to a press release from the company. Levy was the co-founder and former president of Allegiant Air (which currently operates out of Ogden-Hinckley) and the one-time CFO of United Airlines. Avelo’s leadership team also includes former senior executives from Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Northwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

Avelo will fly 189-seat-capacity Boeing 737-800 aircraft on all routes, which in addition to Ogden includes service to and from California locations Eureka, Redding and Santa Rosa; Eugene, Medford and Bend, Oregon; Bozeman, Montana; Grand Junction, Colorado; Mesa, Arizona; and Pasco, Washington.

Levy said the Burbank airport is close to downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Pasadena and many other Southern California attractions. According to the company’s website, the airport is just 5 miles from Universal Studios and 40 miles from Disneyland.

Ogden City has been hunting for commercial air service at its municipal airport, to varying degrees of success, for several years. The city added service between Ogden and Mesa in 2012, with flights provided twice a week by Allegiant Air.

City officials have said the municipal airport regularly operates at a loss, by as much as $750,000 during the 2010s. Those officials says losses have lessened in recent years, but the number fluctuates. During a recent Ogden City Council meeting, Ogden Comptroller Lisa Stout said the airport lost about $560,000 in Fiscal Year 2020.

A 20-year master plan shows that the city wants to recruit aerospace companies to the site and continue to develop commercial passenger air service to make the airport more financially sound.

Some people at the airport affiliated with general aviation activities have questioned how much the city really loses at the facility and have been skeptical that commercial service can thrive, considering the presence of the Salt lake City International Airport less than 40 miles to the south. In an effort largely spearheaded by Ed McKenney, a pilot and former member of the city’s airport advisory board, the group has resurrected the formerly dormant Ogden Regional Airport Association in an effort to address some of the group’s concerns, which, among other things, includes increasing fees at the airport and unfavorable lease terms.

In late 2017, the city tried to expand its commercial operation with Allegiant, briefly adding flights to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. But both of those flights were shut down shortly after they began, due to low passenger numbers.

Today, the original Phoenix/Mesa flight is all that remains — at least until the new Avelo service starts in May.

Ogden City Director of Community and Economic Development Tom Christopulos said he believes people will take advantage of regional air service like that offered at Ogden-Hinckley. The service is typically cheaper than that at a major airport and involves fewer lines. Christopulos said the regional service is generally “less of an ordeal” than what is experienced at a larger airport.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Christopulos said. “But hopefully this will be a sign of what’s to come at the airport.”

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