If you needed any more proof that air travel demand is surging back after COVID -- if the forecasts and the TSA traveler count weren't enough to convince you -- then the launch of a new regional airline this week should put any concerns to rest. Nothing says "recovery" like the level of investment that a new airline requires, but the new Burbank-based Avelo Airlines represents something more: the growth of the kind of travel that Americans began to embrace during the pandemic, which in turn represents an attractive lifestyle option for new pilots.
Avelo is part of the trend toward low-cost regional airlines, but they've taken the concept a step further. All flights originate out of Burbank, CA, and connect to smaller and less congested airports that are closer to classic non-urban vacation destinations. For instance, the inaugural flight went to Santa Rosa, CA -- the heart of California wine country -- and additional planned routes include Ogden, UT, Arcata/Eureka, CA, Bozeman, MT, and Bend/Redmond, OR, which just happens to also host a campus for our flight training school.
These types of secondary markets are usually neglected by the major airlines, and Americans have been flocking to rural destinations like these and buying up vacation homes during Covid, so Avelo's business strategy looks smart. But as an aspiring pilot, why should you care about a new airline's route strategy?
You should care for two reasons. First, regional airlines like Avelo are typically the best stepping stone after building hours as a CFI for pilots to plan their route to the major airlines. Secondly, a regional airline can often be a better lifestyle choice for pilots, especially young pilots starting a family, because of the short routes. Because all Avelo flights return to Burbank, their pilots can sleep in their own beds every night.
And while it's true that regional airlines typically pay less than the majors, they still pay extremely well for a first job post-training. Note also the big leap between first officer and captain pay, which is typical -- but it's all the more reason to enroll in flight training school now, so you can be ready for the coming wave of hiring and begin to gain seniority.