About the company
Avelo Airlines was founded with a simple mission — to inspire travel. Operating a fleet of Next Generation Boeing 737 aircraft, Avelo is offering its customers a refreshingly smooth experience and unrivaled convenience, at a great low fare. The airline is providing nonstop flights on previously unserved routes between its base at Hollywood Burbank Airport and 11 popular destinations across the Western U.S. And in the months ahead, Avelo will begin operating flights to several popular East Coast destinations from its second base at Tweed New Haven Airport. Avelo’s Founder, Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy brings a proven track record of leading airlines, and the senior team includes many proven leaders with more than 200 years of collective aviation experience.
The firm’s relationship with Levy dates to when he served as a co-founder and president at Allegiant, one of the airline industry’s great success stories. When Levy began work on Avelo, he brought Korn Ferry in to help first with the early thinking on the human capital agenda – leadership talent, organizational model, executive compensation and even culture.
Avelo Airlines is now being compared to innovative companies such as HPE and Intel due to timing, leadership, out-of-the-box thinking and an extreme focus on culture, partnership, inclusion and safety. The airline took flight on April 28, 2021, going from roughly a couple dozen crewmembers at the end of the third quarter 2020 to more than 200, and growing in a few short months — all during a pandemic.
The challenge: Build a crew from scratch during the pandemic
The aviation sector was significantly impacted by COVID-19, and as the world began to shut down travel, public safety and the race for a safe and effective vaccination began to take center stage. More than 50,000 aviation employees were impacted, leaving the airline industry with its fewest number of active employees since the 1980s. While jets and crew were grounded and employees navigated through furloughs and layoffs, aviation leaders began to speculate the timeline to normalcy at an estimated 5-6 years. The economic climate and travel restrictions alone were daunting for an up-and-coming airline to not only launch but staff during a pandemic and unforeseeable future.
The solution: Lead executive recruitment and develop an employer brand
Throughout a raging pandemic, airline industry layoffs and restructurings, and an air travel industry that was “grounded,” Korn Ferry collaborated with the CEO and Jim Lynde, Avelo’s Head of People, to identify and attract a top-notch leadership team, blending seasoned veterans with emerging leaders. Since then, Korn Ferry and Avelo extended that relationship into the recruitment of the broader Avelo organization, including the front-line workforce, through Korn Ferry’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) offering. It uses AI-enabled tools to analyze talent availability and trends to find, attract, hire and onboard the most qualified talent that may or may not be actively looking for a job. Because of the pandemic, all hires were completed virtually.
To enhance employer branding efforts, Korn Ferry focused materials and messages on Avelo’s purpose, values, vision, and culture of caring and service orientation. The airline refers to this as its “Soul of Service.”
These branding efforts cemented Avelo’s “One Crew” philosophy throughout the recruitment process. For most airlines, a “crew member” refers only to someone who serves customers in the air. Avelo’s “One Crew” philosophy is about creating a team orientation and ownership culture where all crewmembers contribute to the outcome. Other key elements of the focus on the airline include a safety-first approach and creating an easy and friendly environment for the customer. Avelo University supports this through specialized cross training to ensure safety, collaboration and inclusiveness at every turn.
The results: Recruiting leadership and crew in record time
The approach is working. Partnering with Korn Ferry, Avelo hired its first pilot class of 14 in only 21 days from start to finish, and more than 200 employees total in just four short months. Recruitment continues to this day.
Lynde observed, “Korn Ferry has truly been a superb and seamless partner as we recruited great crewmembers to start Avelo. From service-focused front-line crewmembers to highly capable leaders, the Korn Ferry team has helped us find, select and bring onboard crewmembers who love working as One Crew to serve our customers. That’s a great outcome at any time—and our Korn Ferry partnership did all that safely and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.”