Breeze unveils its first expansion, adds new cities in Florida and New York
Breeze Airways, the new upstart airline by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, is set to blow into two new markets.
The airline announced Monday that it will begin service next month from New York's Islip Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) and Florida's Palm Beach International (PBI) near West Palm Beach.
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG's free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!
The cities, which will see a total of eight new routes, are the first new destinations to join Breeze's network since the carrier launched with 16 cities in May of this year.
Islip service will begin on Feb. 17, with four weekly flights to Norfolk, Virginia (ORF), on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. The airline will add twice-weekly flights — Fridays and Mondays — to Charleston, South Carolina (CHS), the following day.
West Palm Beach will get six destinations, the airline said in the announcement, all of which will only be serviced with round-trip flights on Saturdays, underscoring the airline's focus on leisure travelers. The destinations will include Akron/Canton, Ohio (CAK); Columbus, Ohio (CMH); Charleston; New Orleans (MSY); Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia (RIC).
Fares will start at $39 each way on most of the routes, although flights between West Palm Beach and Akron/Canton, Columbus, Norfolk and Richmond will start at $59.
Islip has been the subject of speculation surrounding Breeze since the airline announced its first routes, after the airline opened its first maintenance base at the Long Island airport.
Neeleman told TPG in a phone interview Monday morning that Islip has been in the airline's plans since the beginning, but needed to be finalized before launching.
"It's just priorities," Neeleman said, "what was up at the top of the list and what fit into the routes."
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.
The airline has also ordered 80 new Airbus A220-300 aircraft for longer routes. But Neeleman confirmed to TPG on Monday that the new routes will all be serviced with the Embraer fleet, although he said both of the new cities could see the longer distance aircraft at some point.
"They certainly can be -220 markets, maybe not on these particular routes, but there are other markets we could fly to with the -220s that are decidedly more 'long-haul'," he said, while suggesting that transcontinental service could be possible from Islip.
Read more: Neeleman’s new airline Breeze will use a ‘see how it goes’ approach to succeed. And business class — eventually
The airline unveiled its first A220 earlier this fall at Airbus' manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama. But Breeze has yet to take delivery of the aircraft, despite originally being scheduled to do so in October. Neeleman attributed the delay to minor tweaks and adjustments.
"It's coming any day now, we're just working through some of the delivery bugs," he said. "We're pretty demanding on the quality of the airplane, but we're close to it."
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.
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.