Breeze Airways startup to debut this year after COVID-plagued delays

Aviation analyst Alex Martinez Rivera reveals how the Breeze Airways startup plan is becoming reality after the COVID pandemic froze the planned launch.

Breeze Airways’ startup plan was initially set for 2020. However, the corona pandemic forced delays into 2021. Video: YouTube.

If one goes to LinkedIn, one can already see the Breeze Airways aircraft appearing in Peru, Indiana. Another aircraft arrived at Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) in New York. Moxy 8001 arrived in MacArthur just after the New Year on January 7th.

Breeze Airways aircraft for the startup

It is unknown what bases Breeze Airways might have. Common knowledge is that the Embraer 190 (at least temporary) and the Airbus 220 would be part of the lineup for the airline.

David Neeleman busy with his debut

On Friday, February 5th, the airline filed for an Airline Operating Certificate, or his registration to fly the skies over the United States.

Despite the hoopla people want to bring about the airline, the writing is clear:

The airline will be a direct competition to Allegiant with better service and fewer fees.

In his own words, during an interview with Skift, the Utah based founder of his fifth airline said the following about the two-aircraft strategy:

“They are separate missions — one is an apple and one is an orange,” “Those planes will never fly on the same route. They won’t be in the same universe, really.”

David Neeleman Founder and CEO of Breeze Airways about his two-aircraft strategy.

Many airline and aviation experts believed that he was sticking to the Airbus 220 and utilizing the Embraer E195 as a stopgap measure. He became bold and turned that strategy on its head.

Competitive strategy

Neeleman has undertaken the Kings (taken from the Queens) Gambit.

Why? Having more choice of routes on a low-fare system doesn’t mix. However, if one person can do it, David Neeleman is the one to turn airline strategy on its head!

This would almost be like trying to have two airlines under one roof.

If the Embraer would compete with Allegiant, who will the Airbus 220 compete with? JetBlue on transatlantic routes? Or someone else?

Poor Economics or Poor Imagination

While David Neeleman was Chairman of Azul, the Embraer aircraft they used didn’t serve the model.

However, he saw the model serving Breeze, even though the model used by the competition from American Airlines to JetBlue was blamed for its poor economics.

The trendsetter is seeking to settle once and for all, being that the airplane doesn’t have poor economics. Rather, people have a poor imagination.

Airlines have moved away from smaller aircraft. Their explanation is that larger aircraft has a lower cost and boosts revenue.

This is explained in greater detail in my American Airlines and JetBlue partnership article.

Breeze Airways has stuck to its strategy without deviating much. Neeleman sees an opportunity. With a great record in airline startups, he has flexibility on the Embraer 195 sublease agreement.

His timing is impeccable. Even though, when he did the sublease to Breeze, fuel prices were low. As long as fuel prices stay low-priced, David Neeleman has an advantage. He doesn’t need to fill the Embraer.

“We only need 50–60 people on board to make it make sense.”

David Neeleman on capacity of the Embraer 195

We will know whether that strategy will give dividends.

Breeze Airways startup – Unorthodox Routes

Neeleman’s hiring of Lukas Johnson as Breeze Chief Commercial Officer tells those who follow airlines one thing:

Expect surprising routes.

As a result, Lukas Johnson was an Allegiant Executive before going to Breeze. The consequence will rest on Breeze going where no airline has gone before.

I could see a Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) route to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Meanwhile, another route could be Idaho Falls to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Other airports on my list are:

  • St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (Allegiant flies out of this airport).
  • Akron-Canton Airport (left after Southwest merged with AirTran). No routes to the U.S. West Coast.
  • Orlando-Melbourne International Airport in the Space Coast (No New York, DC, or West Coast Flights).
  • Lakeland Linder International Airport (no passenger service).
  • Idaho Falls Airport (No Flights to Nevada or Oregon until May). Will Breeze fly to those destinations?

However, only David Neeleman and his team know which routes the Embraer 195 are going to fly at this time.

Where would the Airbus 220 go?

This is a powerful question indeed. Does this become part of a two-prong approach?

I believe it is. However, I have no idea of the actual schedules or flights.

The Airbus 220-300 prior to becoming Airbus was the Bombardier CS 300 Program. Airbus bought the program in exchange to pay its debt and to leave commercial aviation.

Our friend David Neelman was a believer in the Program as his letter was to purchase 60 Airbus 220. Since he stuck with the program through thick and thin he most likely got a discount for his loyalty.

Quite possibly, Breeze and the Airbus 220 will compete on the international stage, possibly in Latin America. Certainly, Europe can’t be discounted as the aircraft does have the range. If it flies to Europe it will add pressure to JetBlue as it had to delay its maiden flight to the UK.

Don’t expect everything to be included in the cost of the ticket

I think the ability to have the lowest fare is what people want. Handling baggage costs money. Providing food costs money. If you want to upgrade your experience, you can do that. I think people will appreciate that. It’s all in the way we present it.

David Neeleman Founder and CEO of Breeze Airways

While certainly, the JetBlue and Azul Founder hasn’t missed a beat, he has definately evolved during COVID.

About the airline itself, according to the filling with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Breeze will become the “World’s Nicest Airline.”

While there will not be in-flight entertainment the airline assures there will be free inflight WiFi. The economics change so we will keep a close eye on that.

David knows how to make us comfortable in an airline. His years at JetBlue have demonstrated that capability. If one keeps things within reach people will come. And if it doesn’t then the consequence is people choosing other options.

If Breeze’s strategy surprises us as JetBlue did, prepare to feel aviation turn on its head!

Authors Opinion

If I had learned anything with David Neeleman it is to expect opportunity and a way to feel engaged with his airlines. I felt that way with JetBlue. People connected with Azul and people will now do the same with Breeze Airways.

Small to Medium Communites, expect a heavy welcome by this new airline!

A side note here: If Breeze chooses Lakeland Linder International Airport for flights, expect heavy competition from other airlines as well as other airports in the region, such as Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Orlando International Airport (MCO). Both of these airports serve the Lakeland Community.

Also, the same applies to Melbourne and Orlando Melbourne International airports. Daytona Beach International Airport would replace Tampa International as the airport competition.

Lakeland Florida is one of the medium-size communities that has an airport but doesn’t have air service. If it comes to pass I expect a severe airline undercutting in trying not to establish a base for Breeze there.

Otherwise, the innovation and cunning of David Neeleman and his team will innovate and push the envelope on air travel as he did close to 25 years with JetBlue.

What do you think about the Breeze Airways startup? Please let Alex Martinez Rivera know. You can contact him below.

Captain Jetson news reporter and aviation analyst aviation analyst Alex Martinez Rivera
Alex Martinez Rivera

Alex Martinez Rivera is the Senior Aviation Contributor for Captain Jetson. Ask questions or connect with him about aviation, aerospace, business, or government via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Featured Image: Rawlson Singh, Manager, Materials at Breeze Airways.

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