The recent flight from Tweed New Haven Airport to Florida was an exciting and unique opportunity for three business management majors and their professor, thanks to the support of a generous alumnus.
November 18, 2021
Gabriela Garcia-Perez ’24 recently boarded a round-trip flight from New Haven to Orlando. What made the experience particularly unique was the fact it was the inaugural flight out of New Haven for Avelo Airlines, which is now offering flights from Tweed New Haven Airport to five destinations in Florida.
Garcia-Perez was one of three University of New Haven students – all business management majors – who were among the passengers on the flight. It was an exciting opportunity for them to be a part of the event and to network with airline leadership, who, she says, introduced themselves to everyone on the flight and were “down to earth.
“The experience was absolutely amazing!” she said. “I was very honored to have been invited to such an historic event for Connecticut and for the Greater New Haven Region.”
After a celebration and a ribbon cutting on the runway outside the plane, Garcia-Perez flew to Orlando and back with her classmates Brendan Shamas ’23, Andrew Bianco ’23, and their professor, Angelica Gianchandani, M.A.
“This was such a great opportunity,” said Shamas. “I was very excited to fly and to have the opportunity to meet so many people. This was a great opportunity for the University.”
Michael Quiello ’74, ’16 Hon., vice president of safety, security, and operational efficiency for Avelo Airlines, a longtime airline executive and a member of the University’s Board of Governors, invited the students be a part of the celebration. Several members of the University community also attended the celebration and the ribbon cutting, including University President Steven Kaplan, Ph.D., and Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D., director of athletics and recreation.
“It was very exciting to be here,” said Bianco. “It was a very cool opportunity, a once-in-a- lifetime experience. I’ve been taking it all in and learning from it. I’m grateful to have been a part of this.”
‘The community we have fostered at the University’
Several local and state leaders, including Governor Ned Lamont, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, attended the celebration of the inaugural flight. They discussed the importance of the airline’s presence in the region as “more than just about flights to Florida,” since it also means more local jobs and a boost to the region’s economy.
Prof. Gianchandani says the event was also a wonderful way for the University and Avelo Airlines to come together.
“It’s exciting that we’re able to work with Avelo and showcase what the University is about,” said Prof. Gianchandani. “We’re about innovation and experiential learning. We have alumni who are now board members, and they want to collaborate with students and show them how to build businesses and enterprises. This flight was an incredible opportunity, and it showcases how business leaders are creating new opportunities and innovation.”
Garcia-Perez says the flight, which returned her and her classmates back to New Haven that evening, was an incredible opportunity for them to network. She appreciated how willing the Avelo executives were to offer their support.
“The fact that Mr. Quiello, an alum, is willing to give back to students says so much about the community we have fostered at the University,” she said. “The Avelo executives were more than happy to connect us to other people who they thought could help us. Their humility and welcoming attitude made us feel like part of the event, and not just spectators.”