JetBlue founder David Neeleman to base new airline in Salt Lake City

Dec 16, 2019

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JetBlue Airways and Azul founder David Neeleman will base his next airline venture in Salt Lake City as he returns to his aviation roots.

Breeze Aviation, the name of the corporation — but not necessarily the brand — that will own Neeleman’s new airline, set up shop in Salt Lake City, according to a Dec. 12 statement from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The Utah capital will be the headquarters for the airline, though not necessarily a hub.

Dubbed by many in the press as “Moxy” — the codename for Neeleman’s project — the new carrier hopes to begin carrying passengers in either late 2020 or early 2021. The airline will launch with used Embraer E190s from Azul, before shifting to new Airbus A220s that begin arriving in 2021.

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However, the new carrier will may not end being called by the name Moxy, which is already used by Marriott for its millennial-focused hotel chain. Neeleman similarly called JetBlue “New Air” in the press prior to unveiling the JetBlue name in 1999.

Neeleman’s new airline plans to fly point-to-point routes between underserved markets, bypassing major hubs like Atlanta or Chicago. However, where and when specifically is not yet known.

How Neeleman plans to launch the new venture in a year also remains to be seen. Recent attempts to start new carriers in the U.S. have been fraught with lengthy waits for approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration. Some turned to leveraging or buying an existing airline’s operating certificate, but with little success.

Even Hawaiian Airlines, when it launched its regional subsidiary Ohana by Hawaiian in 2014, took nearly a year longer than planned due to a longer-than-expected approvals process.

Related: JetBlue founder may launch new U.S. startup ‘Moxy’ in 2020

Neeleman’s decision to land in Salt Lake City is a return home for him. Utah is where he got his start in the airline industry working, and then running, Morris Air until the carrier was sold to Southwest Airlines in 1994.

A representative for Neeleman was not immediately available for comment.

Featured image by Rick Maiman/Sygma via Getty Images.

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