Breeze Airways is a new airline that will be launched in the US in the coming weeks and was founded by the same person as JetBlue. The airline was originally scheduled to start in 2020, although the schedule has understandably been postponed a bit.
Well, it looks like the airline could start operating in the next few weeks as the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted Breeze Airways tentative permission to begin passenger flights.
Here’s everything we know about Breeze Airways so far:
“Moxy” was announced in 2018
David Neeleman is the founder of several airlines, including JetBlue. He has not worked at JetBlue since 2008 and announced in 2018 that he would start a new airline in the USA.
In July 2018, his new airline ordered 60 Airbus A220-300s. Delivery is scheduled to begin in 2021.
While Moxy was used as the working name when the airline was first announced, we knew all along that the airline would not necessarily operate under that name.
Breeze Airways was unveiled in early 2020
In February 2020 it was announced that Neeleman’s new airline would be known as Breeze Airways. The paint job on Breeze Airways is interesting – on the one hand it is unique and eye-catching, on the other hand it already looks out of date to me.
Rendering of a Breeze Airways Airbus A220-300
Breeze Airways will take off in spring 2021
As mentioned above, Breeze Airways should start operations in 2020, although the pandemic has understandably delayed things a bit. Although many believe a recovery will take years, Breeze still plans to launch flights in the first half of 2021.
The airline will primarily focus on domestic flying, which is likely to be the first type of demand to quickly recover.
As for Breeze’s progress:
- Breeze plans to start scheduled passenger flights in spring 2021
- Breeze originally wanted to start with charter flights, but given the lower demand for charter flights (especially with sports teams), this no longer makes sense
- Breeze already has its first planes and has hired pilots and flight attendants (more on this below because it was controversial).
- Breeze has now been given provisional authority to operate scheduled flights. However, there is a 14 day public comment period so nothing happens until this is completed
- The airline has already started training its staff, suggesting operations are imminent
The first route plans from Breeze Airways
Breeze Airways seems to have a specific schedule for the routes it will take off, but it isn’t making those plans public just yet (which is understandable for competitive reasons).
The last time we heard about the Breeze Airways route maps:
- Breeze will fly from one airport in the southeast to four airports in the northeast and another airport farther south to four airports in the northeast, southeast and south
- In the months to come, Breeze will expand operations from the first two airports in the southeast and add a third airport
- By July 2021, Breeze plans to increase service from existing airports and also to fly from another airport in the southeast to airports in the northeast, southern plains and the mid-Atlantic
Breeze Airways fleet plans: Embraer 190 / 195s, Airbus A220s
In the long term, it is planned that Breeze Airways will fly Airbus A220, as 60 of these aircraft have been ordered. Initially, however, the airline will lease Embraer 190s & 195s from the Brazilian Azul. This is mutually beneficial as Azul is looking to get rid of these planes in favor of the new Embraer 195-E2 jets anyway.
With the current plan from Breeze Airways:
- Breeze Airways will begin operations with three leased Embraer 190s and 195s. Up to 15 of these aircraft are to be leased
- As for the Breeze Airways A220, the airline will receive its first in August 2021, its second in September 2021, its third in November 2021, and one per month from January 2022 until it has all 60 that have been ordered
As I said earlier, the Embraers are a temporary fix and the plan is for Breeze’s fleet to be made up entirely of A220s eventually.
Breeze’s Embraers will have 108 to 118 seats, which means they’ll stay in the configuration they were previously with Azul, a one-cabin layout with an extra legroom section.
Breeze will initially fly Embraer aircraft
Breeze Airways business model
In many ways, the U.S. aviation market was already overcrowded before the coronavirus. So what will Breeze Airways do differently?
At its simplest, Breeze Airways plans to operate point-to-point flights between markets that the airline considers underserved. This would include medium-sized city pairs with no current non-stop flights, and it would also include entry and exit of secondary airports in regions. As Neeleman describes it:
“Breeze flies non-stop between locations that don’t currently offer meaningful or affordable service.”
In other words, it sounds like Breeze is looking to take a similar approach to route planning as Allegiant, except to provide a better experience.
In the past, point-to-point recreational flying was a very different business model than previous airlines. However, after business travel has dried up, the top three U.S. airlines are also launching endless point-to-point recreational routes that they would never have considered before. This seems to diminish Breeze’s competitive advantage at least somewhat.
Neeleman also says that Breeze Airways will be “the most beautiful airline in the world”. That’s a big statement so we’ll see how to do that.
Interestingly, Breeze is just one of two big new US airline startups, the other is Avelo Airlines, which was founded by a former manager of Allegiant Travel United Airlines. This airline has a similar business model in terms of the routes it will fly, with one big difference: Avelo will use older aircraft and focus on providing extremely affordable and basic transportation.
The Breeze Airways passenger experience
As for the passenger experience from Breeze Airways, the airline plans to be a low-cost carrier with a twist:
- The airline won’t have seatback entertainment, but will have streaming entertainment and Wi-Fi (airline said Wi-Fi might be free, but we’ll see)
- Breeze Airways will be top notch at some point, and the type of seats may vary depending on the route. The airline may offer standard first class seats on some routes and flatbed seats on other routes (this seems to apply to the A220 and the Embraers temporarily used do not have first class seats).
- Technology will be a big focus, and Neeleman even described the business as a “technology company that flies airplanes.”
In relation to this last point, so many airlines are talking about the importance of technology and how they will use it to differentiate themselves, etc. I am always very skeptical of the claim because in reality very few airlines really differentiate themselves on this front. We’ll see if Breeze Airways is any different.
Breeze Airways’ controversial hiring practices
According to Breeze Airways, it’s supposed to be the nicest airline in the world, which many claim doesn’t mix well with the airline’s hiring practices that have sparked some controversy:
So yeah, I’m excited to see how that works for the airline. On the one hand, Neeleman built airlines with good cultures. On the other hand, some of these practices seem highly questionable.
Neeleman has done a fantastic job with the airlines he founded. So, as consumers, we should be excited about Breeze Airways. It promises to be the nicest airline in the world and has done a good job in the past building companies with great cultures. I have some concerns about Breeze’s approach to hiring, though only time will tell how that works.
Breeze Airways has now received preliminary approval to offer passenger flights. There is a two week public comment period and the airline is getting closer to the start of flights.
Hopefully Breeze will start operations in the next few weeks, first with Embraer aircraft and then with the Airbus A220 from August 2021. I look forward to seeing the route network, the A220 premium product and the tariff structure of Breeze.
What do you think of Breeze Airways?