Breeze Airways is to become the newest U.S.-based airline after the Department of Transportation (DOT) granted the upstart carrier an operators certificate for interstate air travel on Wednesday. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, the airline is set to connect smaller city pairs that “have been forgotten or neglected” by other U.S. airlines according to a recent regulatory filing from Breeze.
Founded by serial aviation entrepreneur David Neeleman, the airline is expected to start operations later this year using three leased Embraer E190 and E195 regional jets that are capable of carrying between 108 and 118 passengers.
Breeze then intends to add further Embraer jets, as well as larger Airbus A220 single-aisle aircraft with plans to expands its fleet to around 22 aircraft within several years. The operator’s certificate issued by the DOT limits Breeze to a maximum fleet size of 22 “large aircraft”.
Breeze will be Neeleman’s fifth airline startup after launching well-known brands like jetBlue more than 20 years ago, as well as Canada’s WestJet and Brazilian airline Azul. Neeleman, who is originally from Brazil but was brought up as a Mormon in Salt Lake City, has also attempted to turn around Portugal’s loss-making TAP Air.
Despite the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Neeleman believes there is still a market for Breeze to capture. “There are literally hundreds and hundreds of city pairs that are crying out for non-stop flights,” Neeleman said last year, while promising Breeze would be the “world’s nicest airline”.
On Tuesday, Breeze had written to the DOT asking the department to “promptly issue” a final order awarding an operators certificate after no objections were filed against the airline’s application.
As of late February, Breeze had spent around $30.6 million in getting the airline off the ground. The carrier expects to incur up to $57 in expenses before operating a single revenue flight.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.