MIAMI — David Neeleman’s fifth startup airline, popularly known as ‘Moxy,’ will become Breeze Airways when it launches domestic point-to-point flights between underserved US markets with a fleet of 60 Airbus A220-300s.
The new airline is currently applying for its Air Operating Certificate with the FAA and the DOT, hoping to launch its first flight by the end of 2020 with an initial fleet of 30 Embraer E195 jets.
David Neeleman, who successfully launched and developed Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, Azul, and transformed TAP Portugal into a healthy carrier, is now re-entering the highly competitive US market with an all-new low-cost carrier.
“Breeze will fly nonstop service between places currently without meaningful or affordable service,” said Neeleman, Breeze’s President and CEO.
The iconic airline mogul revealed his intentions to launch an all-new airline back at the Farnborough Air Show in 2018 when he placed a large order for 60 A220-300s.
“20 years ago, we brought humanity back to the airline industry with JetBlue. Today, we’re excited to introduce plans for ‘the World’s Nicest Airline,'” Neeleman announced today.
Breeze’s initial markets will be “mid-size city pairs that currently have no nonstop service,” all served with low-fare, high-quality nonstop flights that will bring “new consumer technology innovations.”
The airline will begin operations with a fleet of 30 E195 jets, all leased from Azul, as the Brazilian carrier continues to replace these older regional jets with the next generation E195-E2 aircraft.
The new A220-300s will begin to arrive by April 2021, equipped with new technology innovations that will “improve the flying experience,” according to Breeze Airways. Presumably, the airline will revolutionize the industry as much JetBlue did in 2000 when it introduced Live TV and other amenities that were inexistent at the time.
With Breeze Airways finally unveiled, it’s time to step back in time and re-visit the airline’s not-too-humble beginnings with a blockbuster order for one of the world’s most attractive single-aisle airplanes.
Looking Back: The A220 Is Perfect For Breeze
On July 17, 2018, an unnamed ‘new US airline startup’ committed to purchasing 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in the midst of the Farnborough Air Show.
This order was crucial for the recently-purchased Airbus A220 program (formerly known as Bombardier CSeries), as it followed a prolonged drought with no significant commitments. That same day, JetBlue placed a blockbuster order for 75 A220s.
“After years of US airline consolidation, the conditions are improving for a new generation of US airline to emerge, focused on passenger service and satisfaction,” said Neeleman at the time of inking the order with Airbus.
“The A220 will enable us to serve thinner routes in comfort without compromising cost, especially on longer-range missions. With deliveries starting in 2021, we will have ample time to assemble a world-class management team and another winning business model,” he said.
During the ceremony, Christian Scherer, CCO at Airbus, added that “We believe the A220 really is the future of this segment of the market, and the flying public will know from the minute they set foot onboard that they’re experiencing the best our industry has to offer.”
As Neeleman explained during an exclusive interview with The Airways Podcast with Chris Sloan in August 2019, he ordered the A220 for Moxy because it is a tremendously flexible aircraft.
“The A220 can fly for seven hours and can be reconfigured relatively quickly—you can put 22 lie-flat beds in front of the emergency exit rows, or you can put 50 coach seats. It all can be changed overnight,” Neeleman explained.
“We needed a plane that could fly far, one that has excellent short-field performance, and one that can also be reconfigured quickly to fill in these niches and gaps that are not being filled today,” he said. “The A220 has it all.”
When asked about the new airline’s name, Neeleman revealed that he liked the name ‘Moxy,’ but he couldn’t go forward with it. “Marriott had put up a chain of hotels with that same name, and they threatened us. ‘Don’t do that,’ they said.”
However, Neeleman added that, for him, choosing the name of the airline is never a priority. “Some people need to come up with a name before they come up with anything else. I always say, ‘no, let’s just create the airline and then the name will come naturally.'”
In fact, Neeleman first created his Brazilian airline, and, through a contest, a large number of Brazilian participants chose the name Azul.
“We are going to create value for the name and the name will create value for us. People get it backward,” he concluded.
The Underserved Cities Stimulate Traffic
David Neeleman strongly believes that there is still a significant niche in the domestic US airline network. According to him, “if you’re living in a small city—and the only way for you to get to your destination is through a hub—it will take you twice as long to get there,” he said during The Airways Podcast interview.
“These markets are probably a little smart for Frontier and Spirit,” he reckons, “but maybe it will work with a lower trip-cost airplane like the A220.”
Neeleman added that he has proven in Brazil with Azul that if “you have service with nonstop cities that big airlines are not serving, then you can stimulate a lot of traffic.”
For Breeze Airways, Neeleman emphasized that its sweet spot would be on routes where airlines like Allegiant is either underperforming or not even participating.
“We could fly transcontinental routes or even the same routes Allegiant flies (…) We would have the advantage with the A220, offering 20% lower trip costs,” he said.
“You would say that’s not much,” he notes, “but that means that you’re making 20% more margins in a market when they’re losing 20%, or we could be breaking even when they’re negative 20%.”
“In a business where dollars and cents mean everything, having an engine that can burn a lot less fuel and has the same seat-mile costs as the A320neo—which Allegiant doesn’t have—is a huge advantage,” he said.
But the seasoned airline executive remains cautious. He emphasized that Breeze’s business model doesn’t preclude them from doing anything. “We are flexible with how we can come in and go out quickly.