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Breeze Airways Receives Final Federal Authorization, Prepares for Operations

Breeze will operate old Azul Embraer E190s before taking Airbus A220s later this year. (Photo: Denis González Díaz / @denis_costa_rica_spotter)

Breeze Airways has been cleared to start operations by the U.S.Department of Transportation. The carrier was granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity on Wednesday, allowing the airline to start carrying passengers, freight and mail on up to 22 “large aircraft” within one year. Breeze can apply to expand its fleet past 22 jets.

Breeze, started by JetBlue, WestJet and Azul founder, David Neeleman, has been waiting for this certification for some time. The airline was originally planning to launch services in 2020, but was delayed by the onset of the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Now that it has received certification, Breeze says it will share finalized launch plans in the coming weeks. The carrier plans to start selling tickets within a month.

Underserved Destinations, Nonstop Service

Breeze plans to operate underserved routes without nonstop service. It plans to start by focusing on the eastern side of the Mississippi River, largely featuring cities in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. In its certification application in 2020, the carrier said it plans to fly to “neglected, forgotten markets” using small aircraft that will let it keep costs low.

“Many of these destinations are secondary leisure markets that have favorable costs for value conscious travelers or second homeowners,” the company wrote in its application. “These markets in many cases support once a day service or service a select few days of the week. Over time the routes will cover the entire country.”

Breeze is looking to bypass the traditional hub-and-spoke model of flights. It will still have focus cities that might have a higher number of flights, but these will never turn into fully-fledged hubs that follow traditional models similar to what legacy carriers practice.

“We’re looking at 500 city pairs,” Neeleman said in 2020, when the airline’s name was announced, per The Points Guy. “We only need about 50 people on board to cover the operating cost of the airplane. We don’t really have to be in big markets.”

Breeze is launching with Embraer E195 aircraft on lease from Azul. The airline has purchased 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft to be the long-term foundation for its fleet; deliveries will start later this year.

Launching an airline during the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly risky, but Neeleman maintains that “there are literally hundreds and hundreds of city pairs that are crying out for non-stop flights.”

Avoiding the Hubs

As vaccines are rolled out and people begin traveling again, Breeze may prove especially popular among people visiting family or vacation homes who, in order to avoid large crowds, do not want to pass through traditional hub airports to access smaller destinations.

Neeleman has become famous for starting passenger-centric airlines. Azul, JetBlue and WestJet are all known as friendly carriers, while Morris Air, Neeleman’s other airline startup, was bought by Southwest, another notably friendly airline. Breeze, meanwhile, aspires to be the “world’s nicest airline” while maintaining an affordable pricing structure.

John McDermott


  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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