Neeleman Startup Breeze Airways Eyes Late 2020 Launch

Credit: Breeze Airways

David Neeleman’s new U.S.-based airline has been officially christened Breeze Airways and aims to be operating by the end of 2020 using leased Embraer E195s, the carrier confirmed Feb. 7.

Breeze planned to submit its applications for a U.S. Department of Transportation certificate and a Federal Aviation Administration Part 121 air operator certificate by the close of business Feb. 7, outlining plans to connect “mid-sized U.S. city pairs that currently have no nonstop service,” the carrier said in a statement. 

“Breeze will fly nonstop service between places currently without meaningful or affordable service,” Breeze founder, CEO and president David Neeleman said. “Twenty years ago, we brought humanity back to the airline industry with JetBlue. Today, we’re excited to introduce plans for ‘the World’s Nicest Airline.’” Neeleman founded JetBlue, as well as Morris Air. WestJet, and Azul.

The airline, which will be based in Salt Lake City, is slated to receive its first aircraft—one of 30 E195s being leased from Azul—in May. It has 60 Airbus A220-300s on order from Airbus, with deliveries slated to begin in 2021.

Breeze enters a U.S. domestic market that has been streamlined by consolidation. Each of the four major airlines—American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines—offer more domestic seats than the next four-largest airlines combined. But it also has seen notable growth in smaller markets, thanks in part to aggressive growth by ULCCs and major operators—notably American Airlines and United Airlines—adding regional service to feed their hubs.

A Delta Airport Consultants analysis shows that 81% of all U.S. domestic traffic was generated by the top 2,000 city pairs as measured by passengers per day—roughly the same as in 2000. But today, many more are connected by nonstop flights—94%, compared to 76% two decades ago.

Expanding the analysis, only about 33% of today’s top 4,000 city pairs are without nonstop service.

“The question is where are the new growth opportunities particularly as aircraft seating configurations only get larger and unserved market sizes are getting smaller?” Delta Airports’ chief industry strategist William Swelbar said.

The wealth is not being equally shared, however. The U.S.’s lower 48 states ended 2019 with 297 commercial-service airports—the fourth year of decline and the lowest number in decades. The recent peak came in 2004, when 334 airports had service.

The U.S.’s 69 small hub airports have fared particularly well in recent years. Total seats deployed have increased 30% since 2015, in large part due to up-gauging. 

“Exciting for this group of airports is the new aircraft technology that is upon us,” Swelbar said. “The A220 and the A321XLR will likely make new international service offerings available over the coming decade”

Breeze calls the A220 “ideally suited for nonstop flights between mid-size markets that Breeze expects to serve, while the E195s can connect smaller markets cost-effectively,” the carrier said in its official announcement. 

The A220-300’s range could also open up some smaller markets to international service that is more economically feasible than with today’s aircraft. The smaller E195s will provide lift in smaller markets. Breeze also plans to tap the charter market—something that Neeleman broached when he first unveiled the idea of taking E195s from Azul, and a spokesman confirmed is still in the carrier’s plans.

“There is a business for charters and some scheduled routes,” Neeleman told reporters in September 2019, during a delivery ceremony for Azul’s first E195-E2.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.


1 Comment
I would hope that
breeze has interline fares on both ends of it's route structure with international carriers and regionals alike.