PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A new airline will soon be flying out of Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport — and with bigger planes.

Avelo Air is the newest airline in Kalamazoo, providing more flights to and from Orlando International Airport. Flights will start Oct. 26, the airline announced Thursday.

“We’re thrilled because this will reinvigorate us,” Airport Director Craig Williams said. “Certainly, we have great air service now, but this is certainly going to be an improvement and an improvement in air service in a way that the community wants.”

One-way ticket prices will start at $59. Avelo will be offering evening flights on Fridays and Mondays, airline spokesperson Jim Olson said at a press conference. It will be the only airline that offers nonstop service from Kalamazoo airport to Florida.

The inaugural flight out of Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport will happen at 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The flight from Florida will be at noon that day and arrive at Kalamazoo around 2:40 p.m.

After that, Avelo flights out of Kalamazoo will be Mondays and Fridays at 8:50 p.m. and out of Orlando at 5:25 p.m, according to an airline press release.

Williams said the addition of Avelo will help bring about 17,000 more passengers through the airport annually, a 30% jump in traffic.

“As the of industry’s coming out COVID, what recovered fastest and first was the leisure passengers, the leisure traffic,” Williams said. “That demand to go with your family on vacation never did leave.”

“We’ve been looking carefully at Kalamazoo for a while and the timing just seemed right,” Olson, the airline spokesperson, said. “Let’s do this right before the wintertime.”

Avelo flies only the Boeing 737. It will the first narrow-body airliner with three-by-three seating out of Kalamazoo since Northwest Airlines ended its service there after merging with Delta Air Lines.

“It’s going to change the complexion of the airplane landscape of this airport when we start flying in here,” Olson said. “People like bigger airplanes. There’s more overhead space — you can fit bigger bags in the overhead. We have a variety of seating options on our planes. So, if you’re like us, bigger guys, you can purchase for a very small fee some more legroom, all that kind of stuff. We’d like to say that our whole airplane is first class.”

Earlier in the week, Capital Region’s International Airport in Lansing announced that Avelo would be starting service there, offering Thursday and Sunday flights to Orlando starting in October.

The airline’s announcement comes as United Airlines pulled service from Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport in January of this year. It cited a pilot shortage as well as economic impacts to the airline industry as a whole. A spokesperson at the time said the stoppage would be long-term but United was “leaving the door open” for a return.

—News 8’s David Horak contributed to this report.