May 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

Breeze Airways to target domestic leisure travel market in first flights

Illustration of an airplane tail design with a dollar bill sign on it.  

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Breeze Airways is about to take off. The new low-cost airline will operate its first flights on May 27.

Why it matters: The airline sprang to life just in time to take advantage of historic pandemic-induced dislocations in the air travel market.

  • Used planes are abundant and cheap, and there's a labor pool to pick from after pilots and other workers lost their jobs at bigger airlines, the AP reports.
  • Flight volumes are beginning to bounce back, thanks to domestic leisure travel — Breeze's target market.

One unusual pitch: “We created Breeze as a new airline merging technology with kindness,” says founder David Neeleman.

  • Breeze will even offer KIND bars in-flight (Utz products, too).

Details: Neeleman is a prolific founder of airlines, having previously started JetBlue, Brazil’s Azul, Canada’s WestJet, and Morris Air (acquired in the '90s by Southwest).

  • By July, Breeze aims to be flying nonstop routes out of 16 U.S. airports, targeting smaller cities where major airlines have cut back.

Of note: Low-cost carrier Avelo Airlines also launched this spring, serving a handful of destinations on the West Coast.

Our thought bubble: Out of the gate, Breeze is filling a gap for services legacy carriers aren't currently providing. But it could still eat away at the incumbents' sales on the margins — especially by helping customers skip those annoying layover flights to mid-size cities.

  • This while Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines operate under the weight of the tens of billions in additional debt they borrowed to stay afloat during the pandemic.

What to watch: Breeze is just getting started. "There are so many city pairs needing nonstop service around the country, we have a further 100 cities under consideration," according to Neeleman.

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