Avelo continues its torrid pace of growth as of late with its newest city… Binghamton? There’s a good chance you’ve never even heard of Binghamton, but then again, did you know New Haven? There appears to be some method to the madness here, though the opportunity here is far smaller than in New Haven.
Let’s start from the beginning. What’s a Binghamton? It’s actually a city — but a small one — with less than 50,000 people. If you group in the metro area, there are around 250,000 people total. The city lies in south central New York, about 10 miles north of Pennsylvania and not far west of where the state border stops following the Delaware River and turns into a straight line heading west.
Binghamton is probably best known as being near Endicott, where IBM was founded and based for years. IBM pulled up stakes, however, and the old sprawling campus was sold in 2021 to a real estate company. Binghamton is also known for being a college town with what’s now generally called Binghamton University (SUNY – Binghamton). It has nearly 18,000 students who would definitely like to spend spring break in Florida.
The problem for the residents of this town is that there is almost no service. As of today, the only service at the airport is a single daily CRJ to Detroit on Delta. Nearby Ithaca and Elmira have also seen their fortunes shrink. Elmira doubles up Binghamton with a whopping 2x daily to Detroit, but it also has some Florida flying courtesy of Allegiant. Ithaca has that same single daily Detroit flight as Binghamton, but it also has 2x daily to Newark on United. American is pulling out of the airport entirely this week.
In general, this is an area that has seen its fortunes decline over time, so why is Avelo going in? Well, let’s take a look at the map.
This map shows all the routes from New York and Pennsylvania to Florida that operated in March of this year, a peak time. There are unsurprisingly a ton of routes blanketing the region, but there are some notable holes. The problem is, those holes in service generally line up with places where people don’t live. My guess here is that Avelo thinks it can cast a wide net from Binghamton and hope to stimulate enough traffic to fill those planes.
The Avelo plan is to operate 2x weekly (Weds and Sat) between Binghamton and both Fort Myers and Orlando. The flight times leave something to be desired just by the nature of these airplanes being Florida-based. It’s an early morning from Fort Myers with a 9am departure that turns back from Binghamton at 12:30pm. Then it’s a late departure from Orlando at 5:30pm that turns into a very late 8:55pm departure from Binghamton. Service starts in November on the larger 189-seat 737-800 fleet.
The idea here seems to be figuring out how to avoid Allegiant and other airlines while still finding a population center that has some demand. With Binghamton’s metro area at 250,000 people, you can add Ithaca’s 100,000 people living an hour northwest and Elmira’s 90,000 an hour west. On top of that, there’s the mighty Scranton area which surprisingly has no flights to Florida. There are a half million people who live there, and that’s an hour south.
The problem, of course, is that this service is only 2x weekly, so people who don’t want to fly exactly on those days are more likely to drive from Scranton to Allentown or Ithaca and Elmira to Syracuse where there are more plentiful options without much more of a drive.
That means the play has to be two-fold. First and foremost, Avelo have to appeal to the local Binghamton market and hope there’s enough demand there to create a solid base. Then it becomes a scramble to attract people from the surrounding areas with lower fares than they can get elsewhere, making it worth lining dates up with what Avelo offers and then making the drive.
It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but unlike a place like New Haven which is just surrounded with population, this is a very limited opportunity… if there is an opportunity at all. Avelo does find itself with an increasing number of airplanes heading toward Florida, so you can’t blame the airline for trying to find new markets. The thing is, it’s a crowded place and Avelo’s only hope is to avoid the markets where others are flying.
We might see a lot more of these kinds of things as airplanes continue to get delivered, but I do wonder just how many opportunities of this vein remain.