MOBILE, AL — Breeze Airways (MX) has unveiled to the media its first Airbus A220-300 in an event held at the manufacturer’s Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Mobile, Alabama. The airline has also showcased its premium seat, which will debut in 2022 with its ‘Nicest’ fare.
Breeze expects to become the fourth North American customer of the Airbus A220 after Air Canada (AC), Delta Air Lines (DL), and jetBlue (B6). MX plans to enter the first six of its A220-300 fleet into service in the second quarter of 2022.
USA’s newest low-cost carrier, which began service in May 2021 with an all-Embraer fleet, has agreed to purchase 80 A220-300s with one aircraft scheduled to be delivered each month starting in October 2021 for the next six a half years.
David Neeleman’s Vision
From the start, MX founder and CEO David Neeleman knew that aircraft size needed to be appropriate for the routes. Too large of an aircraft would instantly decrease Breeze’s profitability, while a jetliner too small would limit route flexibility. So, Neeleman chose to start with the E190 and E195, with which he is very familiar.
Neeleman had begun his relationship with Embraer back in 2003, when JetBlue ordered 100 E190s, becoming the launch customer for the type. However, the cost of the large Embraer aircraft has long plagued airlines. American Airlines and Air Canada both retired the aircraft, citing its high maintenance costs.
In the late 2000s, JetBlue consolidated its Embraer operations to the East Coast, citing reliability issues. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leasing costs for all aircraft have dropped significantly.
“The Achilles heels of the airplane [the Embraer E-Jets] have always been the capital cost and the maintenance cost,” Neeleman said. “From what we saw in Brazil, they were always a little more expensive per seat than the A320, but now the price of the planes has come down significantly, and we can green-time a lot of the parts. So the combination of the two gives us a trip cost advantage of about 20% to 25% over the guys who fly bigger aircraft.”
The Breeze Strategy
Breeze’s route structure—a point-to-point service model connecting secondary cities—differs from most other airlines. It’s modeled after a few other carriers from around the globe—including Azul, which connects smaller towns and cities in Brazil without non-stop service.
Neeleman said he had learned some “great lessons in Brazil on trip cost and flying between cities with no competition. Azul has been able to survive and thrive because 80% of its routes have no non-stop competition.”
According to Neeleman, 21% of its passengers are repeat customers, an impressive statistic for a new airline.
With the ability to quickly change the configuration in its A220s, the airline will be able to adapt to market climates to effectively utilize the aircraft.
“The A220-300 is a game-changer for us as we add long haul flights that average five hours, including transcontinental service,” said Neeleman. “By the end of 2022, Breeze will have 15 A220s in service. This aircraft is the perfect addition to our fast-growing airline as we seek to bring our Seriously Nice service to more communities across the US and beyond.”
Nice, Nicer… Nicest
From the start, Neeleman has boasted that MX would highlight technology. The airline has been the first in the United States to launch its app before starting scheduled flights, so it was truly developed hand-in-hand with the airline. Flyers can create frequent-flyer accounts with Breeze and link their social media channels to it, allowing easy posts about their trips.
The Breeze Airbus A220-300 fleet will feature 36 premium seats in a two-by-two configuration, 10 extra legroom seats, and 80 standard legroom seats in a two-by-three arrangement. All seats are fitted with in-seat power and USB ports. In addition, the airline plans to announce its high-speed connectivity and inflight entertainment partner in the coming weeks.
In contrast to Breeze, JetBlue (B6) decided not to install premium seats on its A220s, opting to stick with its true low-cost business model.
However, Breeze’s A220s incorporate a premium seat similar to that of Spirit’s aircraft, which have ‘Big Front Seats’. Neeleman specific an example of customers spending an extra $50 for a premium seat on a transcontinental flight.
Breeze’s fare structure is currently divided into two levels: ‘Nice’ and ‘Nicer’. ‘Nice’ fares represent the typical Economy Class seats. Flyers will earn 2% back in Breeze Points and can purchase the right to carry on a bag, check-in, and get seat assignments. ‘Nicer’ fares will earn 4% back and include all amenities, including seating at the front of the aircraft and extra legroom.
With the introduction of the ‘Nicest’ fare, MX will offer a range of bundled amenities, including a premium seat in the front of the cabin featuring 39-inches of seat pitch, 20.5-inches of seat width, and special features as a footrest for added comfort.
Featured image: Breeze