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JetBlue founder's new U.S. airline to launch with Azul E-Jets

Jan. 28, 2020
4 min read
Brazilian Government Allows Foreigners To Buy Up To 100% Of Brazilian Airlines
JetBlue founder's new U.S. airline to launch with Azul E-Jets
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JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman's new airline venture Breeze Aviation has a deal for its first jets, with an agreement for more than two-dozen used Embraer E-Jets with Brazilian carrier Azul in hand.

Breeze, which has frequently been referred to as "Moxy" in the press, will sublease up to 28 E195s from Azul by 2022, the Brazilian carrier unveiled Tuesday. The delivery timeline is unclear, though Azul aims to remove all of its E195s by the end of 2021.

The E-Jet deal has been in the works for months. In September, Neeleman told The Air Current that Breeze was near an agreement with Azul to take up to 30 E195s in order to launch flights in 2020. Breeze has orders for 60 Airbus A220-300s, however, deliveries do not begin until 2021.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 17, 2018: Brazilian government now allows foreign investors to own up to 100% of the capital of Brazilian airlines. Previously, Brazilian law allowed foreigners to own at most 20% of the capital of these companies. In this image: Azul Linhas Aereas airplane, an Embraer 195 taking off from Santos Dumont Airport, in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo by Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An Azul Embraer E195 taking off from Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo by Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Azul plans to remove its 53 leased and seven owned E195s by 2022, replacing them with larger and more fuel efficient E195-E2s. Up to 32 of the leased jets will go to LOT Polish Airlines with transitions beginning in February, and the balance going to Breeze, said Azul CEO John Rodgerson on an investor call Tuesday.

In September, the Brazilian carrier took delivery of its first E2, which Azul says is more than a quarter cheaper to operate per seat than the older-generation E1s it is getting rid of.

None of the senior leadership team from Azul, which Neeleman founded in 2008, will be departing the airline for Breeze, Rodgerson told analysts.

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

There are still many questions surrounding Breeze's business plan. While the airline will be headquartered in Salt Lake City and initially fly E195s and later A220s, the carrier's brand name — Breeze is the corporate name and Moxy the original "codename" — is still up in the air, as is the carrier's initial route map.

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In October 2018, Neeleman described the new venture as a “technology company that happens to fly airplanes,” adding that the customer experience will be “very high-tech, very high-touch.”

As for routes, he said the carrier planned to fly between "places that can only be connected now via at least one stop and plane change."

One major outstanding question is Breeze's operating certificate, a critical prerequisite to launching passenger flights. Recent attempts to start new carriers in the U.S. have been fraught with lengthy waits for Federal Aviation Administration approvals. Some turned to leveraging, or buying, an existing airline’s operating certificate — often with little success.

However, if anyone can successfully navigate the certification process it is Neeleman, who has a successful track record launching new airlines from Morris Air to JetBlue and Azul.

A spokesperson for Breeze was not immediately available for comment.

Related: JetBlue Founder’s Startup Airline ‘Moxy’ Places Firm Order for 60 Airbus A220s

Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images