Breeze orders 20 additional A220s as it prepares for long(er)-haul expansion
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Breeze Airways, the new startup by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, placed orders for 20 additional Airbus A220-300 jets on Monday, bringing the airline’s total orders for the aircraft up to 80.
The airline also released the first photo of its A220 livery, with the first plane rolling out of Airbus’ A220 paint shop in Mobile, Alabama.
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That first plane is expected to be delivered around October, with a delivery rate of about one plane per month after that.
Breeze plans to use the A220 for longer routes within its network — typically flights that take more than two hours — Neeleman previously told TPG. The aircraft will feature business-class recliners, as well as inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.
Breeze launched in May using a fleet of used Embraer E190 and E195 aircraft serving 39 short point-to-point routes, although the airline has already made several adjustments based on low demand on some routes.
In August, the airline secured $200 million in Series B funding from investors, which appeared to be a vote of confidence in the airline’s business model despite rocky demand trends linked to the latest wave of COVID-19 cases.
“We’re seeing decent bookings in the fall, too, because when we started selling, people wanted to go in the summer but hotel rooms were either gone or expensive, and rental cars were hard to come by,” Neeleman told TPG in August when the funding round was announced. “But now in the fall, things are more reasonable, and people are saying ‘let’s do it.’”
Demand for the flights — which Neeleman said Breeze stimulates by bringing nonstops to unserviced routes — should be high enough for the airline to succeed, based on the load factors it’s currently seeing.
“It depends on the routes, they’re in the 60s and 70s,” Neeleman said, referring to load factors. “Considering we started out late, we’re really happy with it.”
Neeleman previously said that Breeze’s low operating and capital cost structure means that the airline could break even with just 50 or 60 passengers aboard each flight. The Embraer 195 aircraft the airline is currently flying can seat 118 passengers, so load factors in the 60s and 70s means about 70 to 95 passengers per flight — far above that metric.
Although Breeze declined to share details on expected first routes for the A220, it did say that service with the new aircraft is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year.
Featured photo courtesy of Airbus.
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