Neeleman's new airline Breeze to first fly routes in eastern U.S.
David Neeleman's latest airline venture Breeze Airways plans to begin service with routes in the eastern U.S., even with its headquarters in Salt Lake City.
The carrier will begin scheduled flights on routes between "points east of the Mississippi river and primarily north-south," Breeze told U.S. regulators in an application to the Department of Transportation dated Feb. 7 and released publicly Monday. Destinations will be "secondary leisure markets" that are affordable to budget travelers and have a high number of secondary homes.
“There’s just a lot of scraps that the big guys have left,” Neelman told TPG on Breeze's network plans Friday. “They’ve left a lot of city pairs, they’ve left a lot of other things untouched. I think we can fill that void nicely with the two aircraft types that we have coming.”
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Neeleman has a track record for establishing successful airlines. Breeze, which was initially code-named Moxy, is his fifth such venture with past names including JetBlue Airways and Brazil's Azul. While the date of the first flight depends on approval of Breeze's operating certificate, the airline plans to initially operate 28 Embraer E195s configured with 118 seats before adding new Airbus A220-300s in 2021.
Based on the details laid out in the federal filing, Breeze would be Neeleman's first carrier without a single focus city or airport at its start. Azul took advantage of the São Paulo region's then-little used Viracopos Campinas (VCP) airport to build a hub, and JetBlue tapped into the underserved domestic market from New York John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in the early 2000s.
The new carrier has some of the best minds in the business developing its map. Breeze has hired former Allegiant Air-executive Lukas Johnson as its commercial chief. Johnson has a reputation for finding successful underserved routes between small- or medium-sized cities.
Related: JetBlue founder’s new U.S. airline now has a name: Breeze Airways
The application does specify any cities Breeze that is eyeing for initial flights. A map included in the filing shows major U.S. metropolitan areas that gained or lost airline seats between 2007 and 2017, with many areas in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley — including Cincinnati (CVG), Cleveland (CLE) and Pittsburgh (PIT) — shown as having lost seats.
Even a canvas of airport officials attending the Routes Americas forum in Indianapolis earlier in February did not paint a firm picture of Breeze's route plans.
"Who aren't they talking to?" one airport official said when asked if they had met to Breeze.
Related: JetBlue founder’s new U.S. airline to launch with Azul E-Jets