Budget Airline Now Offers Route From Salem to Sonoma

Avelo Airlines’ new wine country-to-wine country route announced as it shifts operations from Las Vegas to Northern California’s Charles M. Schultz Airport.

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Houston-based budget air carrier Avelo Airlines now allows oenophiles to hop from one wine region to another with cheap flights from the Willamette Valley to Sonoma County, California.

This month, Avelo launched a new base at the Charles M. Schultz-Sonoma County Airport with flights to eight destinations including Salem Municipal Airport. The launch coincides with the closure of Avelo’s base at Las Vegas Reid International Airport.

Avelo is currently the only commercial airline operating out of the Salem airport, aka McNary Field. The carrier also runs routes from Salem to Los Angeles Burbank Airport and Salem to Las Vegas.

The inaugural Salem-to-Sonoma flight was May 3, according to a statement from the airline.

“We have been very encouraged by the positive reception Avelo has received in the Willamette Valley,” CEO Andrew Levy wrote in the statement. “Getting to this popular Northern California region is now more affordable and easier than ever for travelers in the Portland and Salem area.”

Flights run Monday and Friday. One-way tickets currently cost $76.

Avelo began life in the 1980s as Casino Express Airlines running chartered flights out of Elko, Nev., and it’s gone through many iterations since. In 2021, former United Airlines executive Andrew Levy announced he was transitioning the then-XTRA Airways into an “ultra low-cost” carrier that would distinguish itself from ultra low-cost competitors by providing better and more reliable service.

Ultra low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Airlines commonly provide nonstop routes from midsize cities to leisure destinations like Orlando and Las Vegas, according to a write-up on Avelo’s recent moves in Aviation Week.

With the closure of Avelo’s Las Vegas base, Avelo now flies from Sonoma County to Kalispell, Mont., Pasco, Wash. and Boise, Idaho. A representative of the Charles M. Schultz Airport said it was the largest announcement of new routes in the airport’s history.

Today, Avelo operates a fleet of 16 Boeing 737s, flying out of 52 locations, many of them second-tier airports. The company expects to lease five more 737s by the second quarter of 2025.

With long, dry summer days and cool nights, Sonoma County is home to more than 400 wineries and a world-class culinary scene.

While not as established as Northern California wine country, Oregon’s Willamette Valley still boasts 10 distinct growing areas, called American Viticulture Areas (AVAs), and renowned Pinot Noir grapes.

The Sonoma airport is located outside Santa Rosa, Calif., hometown of cartoonist Charles M. Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip.

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