MIAMI — The much-anticipated initial route network for Breeze Airways (MX) has been unveiled—and it’s impressive. The inaugural nonstop flight will take place on Thursday, May 27, 2021, from Tampa (TPA) in Florida, to Charleston (CHS) in South Carolina—which will be covered live by Airways.

According to the airline, fares will be starting at US$39 one way.

Breeze, the latest startup by David Neeleman—founder of Morris Air (KN), JetBlue (B6), Azul (AD), and WestJet (WS)—is marketed as a “seriously nice” airline, offering nonstop flights to underserved secondary markets, while providing customers a prime passenger experience throughout technological resources. 

Graphic: Breeze Airways

Where Will Breeze Fly?

The initial route map shows 39 routes between 16 cities, with TPA, CHS, New Orleans (MSY) in Louisiana, and Norfolk (ORF) in Virginia as focus cities.

According to Breeze, 95% of its routes have no existing nonstop services, a testament to the airline’s proposed business model to not compete with mainline, full-service carriers, competing on routes well within Southwest Airlines’ (WN) territory instead.

Besides the aforementioned cities, among the initial destinations are Akron (CAK) and Columbus (CMH) in Ohio, Bentonville (XNA) in Arkansas, Huntsville (HSV) in Alabama, Louisville (SDF) in Kentucky, Oklahoma City (OKC) and Tulsa (TUL) in Oklahoma, Providence (PVD) in Rhode Island, Pittsburgh (PIT), Richmond (RIC) in Virginia, and San Antonio (SAT) in Texas.

The initial flights to these second set of destinations will be staggered, with new routes progressively announced through late July. According to Neeleman, the airline is still considering over 100 secondary market cities.

Neeleman has also highlighted that due to the smashing impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the air travel industry, many airlines have opted to cut services to several destinations, impairing the connectivity of many city pairs. 

Photo: Breeze Airways

‘Nicest’ Pricing Model

Although many US airlines are now lifting the no-change and cancellation fee policies, Breeze will offer to its customers the option to change or cancel their flights at no cost. 

Interestingly, North America’s newest carrier is also offering customers a credit system, aptly named ‘BreezePoints,’ where travelers can log their points for future flights or additional services such as seat selection or extra baggage allowance.

In addition, as part of their ‘nice’ concept, Breeze is set to offer ‘Nice,’ which would be the equivalent to a basic economy fare with no frills, and a ‘Nicer’ fare that gives passengers more flexibility, extra legroom, complimentary drinks and snacks, and carry-on allowance.

Breeze is set to offer ‘Nicer’ seats with a seat pitch between 33 and 39 inches on its Embraer E190s, and between 34 and 39 inches on the E195s. The ‘Nice’ seats will offer 29 inches of pitch on the E190s and 31 inches on the E195s, a similar model to what JetBlue offers. 

The Embraer aircraft will not be equipped with any inflight Wi-Fi. However, plans are to introduce the service in its coming Airbus A220-300s, when passengers will be able to stream multimedia content to their personal electronic devices via Global Eagle’s Iris platform and Airconnect IFE Pro. Plans are to offer over 150 entertainment options.

Last April, it was reported that Breeze had placed an order for an extra 20 A220-300s, bringing its total order to up to 80 of the type. This would make it the second-largest A220 operator in the world after Delta Air Lines (DL).

Photo: Breeze Airways

Embraer Now, Airbus When?

Through the summer, Breeze will operate a fleet of 13 aircraft, with 10 Embraer E190s and three E195s. The E190s will be configured with 108 passengers, while the E195s will offer 118 seats both with ‘Nice’ and ‘Nicer’ arrangements. 

According to Breeze, the first of its Airbus A220-300s will arrive in October 2021, taking delivery of a new of the type every month for the next five years until completing the initial 60 aircraft order. If the extra 20 aircraft order is confirmed, deliveries could extend around 2029 at the proposed delivery rate.

The arrival of the Airbus A220-300 to Breeze will not only mark the introduction of IFE but an additional product named ‘Nicest,’ similar to a Premium Economy offering. The ‘Nicest’ seats will be arranged in a 2-2 configuration, while ‘Nicer’ and ‘Nice’ will be fitted in a 2-3 seating arrangement.

David Neeleman. Photo: Breeze Airways

The Verdict

Breeze’s plans are ambitious, and without any competition (so far), Neeleman’s latest startup airline will be able to offer many potential customers in secondary cities the opportunity to experience nonstop flights and ease of travel for the first time.

Curiously, the short-notice route network announcement is seen as a move to minimize risks similar to what happened to Avelo Airlines (XP), whose premature marketing led to larger, stronger competitors to pounce on the opportunity to take bites out of the airline early on.

By staggering its launch schedule, Breeze is putting the ball in the court of its competitors, and particularly, WN.

Will it see Breeze as a threat? If so, how will they react? The answers to these questions will determine Breeze’s playbook in the months ahead. 

The lingering question that remains is Breeze’s ability to follow through comprehensively on its promise to be the ‘nice’ airline. Will Breeze be able to be the ‘Nicest’ on the list?

Be sure to leave your comments below or on our Social Media channels, and remember to stay tuned for next Saturday’s Tampa-Charleston inaugural live coverage from Airways!

Featured Image: Breeze Airways