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Breeze Makes Bid for First Essential Air Service Contract

Another one of David Neeleman's airlines has submitted a proposal for subsidized flights.

A Breeze A220 aircraft (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

We have seen more unusual Essential Air Service (EAS) proposals on increasingly larger aircraft in the past couple of years. Originally, EAS routes were flown on smaller aircraft like eight-seat turboprop aircraft, and as time went on and these smaller aircraft were phased out, the 50-seat and 30-seat aircraft rained king in EAS markets around the country. Then, airlines began slowly phasing out 50-seat jets in favor of 76-seaters.

Until a few years ago, no aircraft larger than 76 seats was seen scheduled on EAS routes with the major exception being in the state of Alaska. Then, Sun County happened. In a very unusual turn of events, ultra-low-cost carrier Sun Country submitted a proposal for its first EAS community. Many questioned its legitimacy, but nonetheless, the carrier won the contract in the community of Eau Claire, Wis.

The ribbon cutting ceremony at Eau Claire (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

After it won Eau Claire, the carrier began throwing its hat in the ring for other EAS contracts around the midwest but haven’t won any other communities. Fast forward two years to this past February, JetBlue became the second carrier to submit an EAS proposal in the lower 48 states with a larger airplane.

Presque Isle, Maine, a community whose current EAS contract ends in less than a month, still hasn’t received word on whether or not JetBlue has won the contract or if the current carrier United will continue to serve the community. If selected JetBlue will serve Presque Isle from Boston on the Embraer E190 and then the Airbus A220 once it retires the previous type.

Breeze Looks at Subsidized Service

Now Breeze, another airline founded by David Neeleman, has thrown its hat in the ring for its first EAS contract, which will be in the city of Ogdensburg located in northern New York. According to a recent filing, Breeze is proposing a mix of JetBlue and Sun Country-type tactics. The carrier wants to fly to leisure destinations, which, in this case, would be Orlando twice a week, and also to a connecting hub which is slated to be Washington Dulles.

A Breeze A220 in Phoenix (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

The connecting hub flights to Dulles aren’t daily, but it’s better than Sun Country’s twice-weekly flights to its Minneapolis hub. Breeze doesn’t currently offer many connecting flights within its network and is largely a point-to-point carrier, plus the carrier doesn’t even currently fly to Dulles.

Breeze did mention in a filing that it is “in discussions with large domestic and international carriers and expect interline connectivity to be available to OGS by the end of 2024.” While it didn’t mention a specific airline, United does operate a sizeable hub at Washington Dulles.

The airline is looking for a three-year EAS contract, and it does offer two options for schedules. The first one is once daily flights to Dulles with the daily departure occurring from the EAS community at 7:45 p.m., and the annual subsidy rate would be $8,860,318. The second option is six weekly flights to Dulles with the departure occurring from Ogdensburg at 7:45 p.m., and twice-weekly flights to Orlando with flights leaving Ogdensburg at 7 p.m. and the annual subsidy rate would be $7,371,031 for Dulles and $2,454,192 for Orlando, making a combined annual subsidy of $9,825,223.

Ogdensburg has been suffering since COVID-19 began. The community used to have twice daily flights on SkyWest under the United Express brand to Washington Dulles under the EAS contract, and Allegiant served the airport unsubsidized to Florida as well. The airport moved a nearby roadway so they could extend the runway just for Allegiant aircraft to land, and while Ogdensburg is small it is a border town, and the carrier used this to try and convince Canadians from nearby cities to drive to Ogdensburg for cheaper flights.

Allegiant left in 2020 with plans to return but never did. SkyWest terminated the EAS contract here and Contour has been serving the area to Philadelphia since.

Joey Gerardi

Author

  • Joey Gerardi

    Joe has always been interested in planes, for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Central New York during the early 2000s when US Airways Express turboprops ruled the skies. Being from a non-aviation family made it harder for him to be around planes and would only spend about three hours a month at the airport. He was so excited when he could drive by himself and the first thing he did with the license was get ice cream and go plane spotting for the entire day. When he has the time (and money) he likes to take spotting trips to any location worth a visit. He’s currently enrolled at Western Michigan University earning a degree in Aviation Management and Operations.

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