JetBlue’s founder David Neeleman says Breeze Airways could fly as early as this year.
Source: Breeze Airways
Nearly 20 years to the day of JetBlue Airways‘ first flight, the New York-based carrier’s founder filed an application with the Department of Transportation to operate a new airline: Breeze Airways.
David Neeleman’s new U.S. leisure-focused carrier would start out providing point-to-point domestic service, flying used subleased Embraer planes from another airline he founded, Brazil’s Azul. It could fly as early as the end of this year, he told CNBC.
Breeze, which vows to become “the world’s nicest airline,” will focus on mid-sized cities “abandoned by our current air transportation network,” the company said in its Friday filing. Years of mega-mergers left four airlines — Delta, United, American and Southwest — in control of about three-quarters of the domestic market.
“We’re going to fly where no one else is flying,” Neeleman said.
Neeleman said he’s considering about 500 city pairs but hasn’t yet settled on a network. Passengers largely would bypass large hubs to connect. Point-to-point flying is a go-to model for discount carriers including Allegiant. Breeze’s chief commercial officer Lukas Johnson worked at Allegiant for almost a decade. “He understands those markets…and if we have a plane that’s smaller with a lower trip cost, there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Neeleman.
In addition to the 28 Embraer 195 planes, which Neeleman said Breeze will start receiving in April, Neeleman is also eyeing the possibility of international flying with Airbus A220-300s, which are scheduled to begin arriving April 2021.
JetBlue, which ousted Neeleman in 2007 after a customer service meltdown, has also ordered 60 of these Airbus planes.
These fuel-efficient jets have the range to allow Breeze to fly to Europe from the East Coast of the U.S. and to a host of cities throughout Latin America. Neeleman said he’s considering what kind of Wi-Fi to offer for the longer A220 routes, possibly for free. That’s something JetBlue currently offers but most other airlines haven’t been able to crack that formula. For the shorter Embraer flights, passengers will likely be able to just download movies, he said.
The airline’s commercial operations will be headquartered in Salt Lake City. Like other low-cost airlines, and increasingly legacy carriers, Breeze will charge passengers fees for add-ons like food and baggage.
“People don’t want to pay everything,” he said. “If someone can fly for 49 bucks and they don’t want to pay for all the stuff… let people choose.”