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Breeze’s first E190 (Photo: John Klos)

Small Community Air Service Grants Provide Clues Into Breeze Launch and Avelo Strategy

On Thursday and Friday, the Department of Transportation unveiled the latest round of Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) applicants.  The program is a grant designed to help small communities address airfare and air service issues, unlike Essential Air Service (EAS), due to the lesser-known program not being a direct subsidy and having broader eligibility.

To be eligible for the SCASDP, communities must not have air service or must use their grant for indirectly subsidizing air service, obtain service to an underserved airport or other ways to improve air service. These communities must not be larger than what the FAA classifies as a “small hub airport,” have not received a SCASDP grant within the last ten years nor be a part of the EAS program. 

Around 70 small-to-medium-sized cities have applied for this grant to improve their air service.  Among these applicants, some have expressed interest from two of the newest airline startups in the U.S., Avelo Airlines and Breeze Airways.  

Breeze Airways

Recently, Breeze Airways, the startup led by David Neeleman — the man behind JetBlue, WestJet and Azul — received government approval for interstate travel.

Due to this, the anticipation of the airline’s route network and its fixation on serving underserved cities have risen. In a previous interview with AirlineGeeks, David Neelman stated, “[it’s] much like we got in Brazil — there were a lot of cities that didn’t have nonstop services between them, so there are about five hundred routes that we’re looking at and don’t have nonstop services.” 

“In March 2021, Breeze plans to introduce scheduled service on three routes from a southeastern United States airport to four points northeast, and from another airport farther south to four points in the northeast, southeast and the southern plains,” the airline hinted in a filing last year. “In the subsequent months, Breeze will increase the number of destinations from the two initial airports and open another airport in the southeastern United States with service to points in the midwest, southern plains and northeast.

Beginning in July, Breeze plans to initiate service from another airport in the Southeast to points in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Southern plains while increasing the number of destinations from its initial airports. In October, Breeze plans to begin service from two additional southeastern airports with service primarily to the northeast.”

Islip, N.Y. is a heavily rumored Breeze destination. In a filing for the city’s SCASDP grant, a timeline for the entrant of a new carrier matches with the estimated launch schedule of Breeze Airways. According to the launch timeline, the airline will announce its intent to start service on April 16, file its schedule on May 3 and launch flights on June 14. Furthermore, the filing contains two redacted letters of support from the airline in question, which could indicate that Breeze Airways is hiding its future route announcements to build more anticipation for its low-cost carrier network.

If these dates are similar to Breeze’s timeline, airline industry stakeholders will see a mid-June launch of the low-cost carrier. For reference, Islip is seeking $1.2 million in funding for “innovative marketing and cost abatement” for service between the airport and unserved cities outside the Eastern Time Zone.

Additionally, the airline expressed interest in two cities, Bentonville, Ark., and Norfolk, Vir. Bentonville is seeking $250,000 in federal funding, part of a $1.5 million incentive to recruit additional low-cost carrier service to the airport, including a revenue guarantee for the carrier. In its grant application, the airport expects a September route announcement with a route launch by December 2021. Furthermore, Bentonville expects to provide waivers on airport rent and landing fees, using the calculation of 16 flights per week.

In a letter of support, the airline states, “Breeze Airways is interested in serving a number of unserved routes from XNA. While we cannot guarantee Breeze will initiate new service should XNA receive SCASDP funding in the form of a revenue guarantee, it would greatly enhance the probability of new service.”  

Meanwhile, in the letter of support to Norfolk, Breeze Airways express the same sentiment. For reference, Norfolk is pursuing $400,000 in federal funding, with a total of $800,000, looking to grow air service in general. Also, New Haven, Conn. mentioned Breeze Airways as a startup with “considerable interest.” In a previous SCASDP application from 2019, the airport stated that they had multiple meetings with the low-cost carrier, with assurances that the Airbus A220 would work from their “short runway.”

Avelo Airlines

Avelo Airlines will be running with a similar business model, though with a larger aircraft, the Boeing 737-800. While little is known about the airline, it is based in Houston and plans to have one of its first bases in Burbank, Calif.

The carrier expressed interest in two destinations on both sides of the United States. Firstly, the airline is targeting service to Ogden, Utah, a city north of Salt Lake City. In Ogden, Utah’s application to the Department of Transportation, the airport wants service to the San Francisco Bay area, with Avelo’s Boeing 737-800. 

Avelo Air’s first 737-800 spotted at Indianapolis International Airport. (Photo: Jackson Wanstrath | @planespottingcvg)

If the application is accepted, Ogden would receive $800,000 in SCASDP funding and provide a revenue guarantee of $950,000. Also, substantial waivers for landing fees and rent will be imposed, with a launch in March 2022.

Avelo Airlines, branded as the former Xtra Airways in the application, states, “…XTRA Airways (‘XTRA’) supports the plan to provide the air service described therein, namely nonstop service between OGD and the San Francisco Bay area… However, due to economic risk in starting a new market, our support is contingent on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s grant offer. The amount of the grant shall be sufficient to fund the elements of the application for which federal funds are specifically requested.”

In addition to service with Breeze, New Haven, Conn. expects “considerable interest” from Avelo Airlines. The airport expects the carrier to use the airport as a potential focus city for their Northeast operation. It is stated that the airline was working with Avelo on service to Chicago and Charlotte, though it is unknown to what extent the service will be. If the grant is accepted, the airport will target a fall 2021 launch. Despite New Haven having only a 5600-foot runway, Avelo assures that the airport’s current runway is capable of supporting its operation.

In another letter of support, Avelo Airlines adds, “…XTRA Airways (“XTRA”) extends its enthusiastic support for the HVN grant application for improved air service…HVN fits well into XTRA’s strategy of serving secondary airports of major metropolitan areas that lack adequate air service…The start date of the proposed service hinges on funding and implementation of the applicant’s air service improvement strategy which is designed to reduce the economic risk associated with initiating the service described.”

The start-up airline is also looking to add service to Phoenix, Ariz. according to sources familiar with the company.

More SCASDP Applications

There are many other SCASDP applications, including the following: 

Northeast U.S.

New Haven, Conn. is seeking $800,000 in funding for the resumption of service to Charlotte and new service to Chicago and Washington D.C. with American, United, Skywest and Avelo.

Binghamton, N.Y. wants $1 million for service to Washington-Dulles on Skywest for United Airlines.

Worcester, Massachusetts is looking for $800,000 for the resumption of service to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando via JetBlue.

Wilkes Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania is seeking $800,000 for the resumption of service to Atlanta, Georgia via Delta and attract more LCC service.

Newburgh, New York wants $750,000 for a revenue guarantee for new service to Washington D.C., Chicago or Atlanta for service on American, Skywest, or low-cost carriers like Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant.

Williamsport, Pennslyvania is looking for $950,000 for flights to Chicago and Washington-Dulles on Skywest.

State College, Pennslyvania is seeking $750,000 for flights to Charlotte on American Airlines.

Manchester, New Hampshire wants $425,000 to lower CPE costs for a ULCC, mainly Spirit Airlines.

Eastport, Maine wants flights to Boston and Bar Harbor, Maine via Cape Air.

Southeast U.S.

Newport News, Virginia is seeking $847,646 for service to Washington-Dulles via United Airlines.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana wants $1 million for service to the Washington D.C./Baltimore area via either American, United or Southwest.

Daytona Beach, Florida is looking for $1 million for service to Chicago or Washington D.C. on American Airlines or United Airlines.

Lakeland, Florida is seeking $750,000 for flights to Charlotte on American Airlines.

Coastal Carolina Regional Airport is looking for service to Washington-Dulles via United Airlines.

Richmond, Virginia wants $500,000 for service to Minneapolis/St. Paul on Delta.

Valdosta, Georgia is looking for $1,122,240 for flights to Charlotte on American Airlines.

Onslow, North Carolina is seeking $700,000 for service to Dallas/Ft. Worth on American Airlines.

St. Augustine, Florida is seeking $700,000 for flights to Charlotte on American Airlines.

Wilmington, North Carolina is seeking $840,500 for service to a northeast hub, either flights to Newark on United Airlines or Boston on American Airlines.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is looking for $250,000 to educate travelers about the airport to ensure less confusion and strengthen existing service.

Lynchburg, Virginia wants $400,000 for service to Chicago on Skywest.

Montgomery, Alabama is seeking $850,000 for flights to Houston on Skywest.

Mobile, Alabama is looking for a $1 million grant for flights to Washington-Dulles on United Airlines.

Melbourne, Florida wants $750,000 for twice-daily service to Washington-Dulles on United Airlines.

Charleston, West Virginia seeks $500,000 for flights to New York City, alternatively, Dallas-Ft. Worth and ULCC service.

Huntington, West Virginia is looking for $750,000 for flights to Washington-Dulles and Chicago on Skywest.

Gulf Shores, Alabama wants $950,000 for flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul on Sun County, Elite Airways flights to Nashville, or seasonal flights to Dallas, Houston, or Memphis, Tennessee.

Brunswick, Georgia is seeking $176,000 for flights to Atlanta on Delta. 

Midwest U.S.

Akron/Canton, Ohio is seeking $1 million for the resumption of service to Houston, Texas on United Airlines.

Des Moines, Iowa is looking for $750,000 to add service to the West Coast, with letters of support from United Airlines for Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Alaska Airlines for Seattle.

MidAmerica St. Louis Airport wants $490,000 for expanded Allegiant service, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego in California, and Denver, New York and Baltimore services.

Toledo, Ohio is looking for $750,000 to add service to Dallas/Fort Worth on American Airlines.

Springfield/Branson, Missouri is seeking $750,000 for service to Washington D.C. and secondarily Miami and Philadelphia on American Airlines.

Dayton, Ohio is looking for $500,000 to support existing services on Allegiant, American, Delta, and United Airlines.

Purdue University Airport is seeking $780,000 for ULCC service via Allegiant to Florida.

Topeka, Kansas is looking for $800,000 for flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth via American Airlines.

Traverse City, Michigan is looking for $500,000 to offset ground handling and station startup, waive airport fees and start a marketing campaign for a new entrant carrier.

Springfield, Illinois wants $750,000 to rebuild pre-COVID flight capacity on United Airlines or American Airlines to Chicago and Dallas.

Williston, North Dakota wants $500,000 for twice-weekly service to Las Vegas on Sun Country Airlines.

Great Bend, Kansas is seeking $1,092,847 to Denver on Skywest.

Champaign/Urbana, Illinois is looking for $850,000 for flights to Washington D.C. on American Airlines.

Green Bay, Wisconsin wants $1,000,000 for service to Dallas-Ft. Worth on American Airlines.

Huron, South Dakota is seeking $940,628 for flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul on Skywest.

Kalamazoo, Michigan is looking for $1 million for flights to Charlotte on American Airlines.

Mountain Region U.S./Southwest U.S.

Tuscon, Arizona is seeking $648,200 for service to multiple destinations in the Midwest, a destination in the South and a destination in the West via Allegiant.

Taos, New Mexico is looking for $750,000 for year-round flights to Dallas /Ft. Worth for Taos Air.

Hobbs, New Mexico wants $800,000 to restore service to Denver on United Airlines.

Lewiston, Idaho is seeking $750,000 for flights to Seattle or secondarily to Portland, Or., Los Angeles or San Francisco on Skywest.

Great Falls, Montana is looking for $800,000 for service to Dallas/Ft. Worth on American Airlines.

Helena, Montana wants $1,004,743 for regional jet flights on American Airlines to Phoenix.

Laughlin/Bullhead, Arizona is seeking $750,000 for flights to Denver.

Eagle County, Colorado is looking for $1 million to add low-cost carrier service.

Idaho Falls, Idaho wants $750,000 for flights to Seattle on Alaska Airlines.

Gunnison County, Colorado is seeking $600,000 for flights to Dallas on American Airlines.

Southern Plains U.S.

Texarkana, Texas is seeking $884,722 for service to Houston on Skywest Airlines.

San Angelo, Texas wants $500,000 for service to Houston on Skywest Airlines.

Waco, Texas is looking for $1,000,000 for flights to Houston or secondarily, service to Chicago on United Airlines.

Harlingen, Texas is seeking $1,000,000 for flights to Chicago on American Airlines.

McAllen, Texas wants $750,000 for a revenue guarantee on twice-daily CRJ-700 service to Phoenix.

Killeen, Texas is looking for $1 million for flights to Denver on Skywest.

Bryan/College Station, Texas seeks $400,000 for a study on air service.

Laredo, Texas wants $250,000 to fund its strategic air service market campaign.

West Coast U.S.

Redmond, Oregon is seeking $300,000 for service to Dallas/Ft. Worth on American Airlines.

Redding, California is looking for $760,000 for flights to Denver on United Airlines.

San Luis Obispo, California is seeking $750,000 for flights to Portland, Or. on Alaska Airlines.

Salem, Oregon is seeking $850,000 for flights to San Francisco via United Airlines.

Oak Harbor, Washington is looking for $608,000 for flights to Seattle on Lynx Air.

Medford, Oregon is seeking $750,000 for flights to Dallas-Ft. Worth on American Airlines.

All these communities will receive the notice of the finalists for the SCASDP grant in June. 

Winston Shek
Winston Shek
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