Breeze Airways Withdraws Application For Compass Certificate

Credit: Breeze Airways

Breeze Airways has canceled plans to purchase defunct Compass Airlines’ operating certificate, marking the latest twist in the startup’s plan to launch domestic scheduled service in the U.S. in 2021.

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Breeze, the latest startup from JetBlue Airways and Azul founder David Neeleman, announced plans in July to obtain an operating certificate from Minneapolis-based regional carrier Compass, which ceased operations in April after the COVID-19 pandemic cratered demand.

But on Aug. 18, the two companies formally withdrew their joint application for the transfer of certificate authority. Breeze spokesman Gareth Edmonson-Jones told Aviation Daily the company will instead pursue a standalone certificate. Plans for a commercial launch in 2021 remain on track, Edmonson-Jones said.

The joint application did receive some objections, although it’s not clear whether they factored into Breeze’s decision to pursue its own certificate. The Air Line Pilots Association objected to what it called a “naked certificate transfer,” and said it would only support the deal under the condition Breeze recall laid-off Compass pilots.

Leisure carrier Sun Country Airlines, on the other hand, had urged the U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) to delay greenlighting the move unless Breeze provided additional evidence of its financial fitness. If approved, the transfer would have subjected Sun Country to heightened competition at its main base in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where Breeze was planning to operate out of Compass’ former base of operations.

Breeze still plans to lease 15 used Embraer E190s from Nordic Aviation Capital, as part of a deal reached with the Denmark-based lessor in June. The carrier also has an order for 60 Airbus A220s, which it will begin receiving in August 2021, after previously pushing back deliveries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Breeze envisions operating charter services for six months beginning this October, before launching scheduled commercial flights in May 2021. The original DOT filing outlined a plan to build a network around north-south leisure routes east of the Mississippi River and expand as its fleet size ramps up. “Breeze’s initial markets will be underserved city-pairs that are currently without nonstop service,” the earlier filing said.


Ben Goldstein

Based in Washington, Ben covers Congress, regulatory agencies, the Departments of Justice and Transportation and lobby groups.