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Breeze will move entirely to Airbus A220s and buy more jets; adds 50th city

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Breeze Airways, the not-so-new-anymore startup airline by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, is moving to its next phase.

The airline plans to begin operating all of its scheduled flights on its fleet of Airbus A220 aircraft by the end of the year, Neeleman said Tuesday, discontinuing service on its small fleet of secondhand Embraer E190/195 jets.

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Marking the news, the airline announced a sale offering 20% off all round-trip base fares booked directly with the airline. To apply the discount, use the code “A220” at checkout by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday for travel between March 6 and Sept. 3.

The cabin aboard a Breeze Airways Airbus A220. DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

Breeze took delivery of its first A220 in December 2021, and currently has 22 of the type in its fleet and expects to take delivery of 10 more through 2024. The airline announced Tuesday that it had exercised 10 purchase right options, bringing its total order of A220-300s to 90 airplanes with 30 options remaining.

Breeze began service in May 2021, using the small fleet of Embraer regional jets leased from Azul Brazilian Airlines — which Neeleman also founded — to fly routes shorter than two hours while the airline awaited its first A220s. The airline uses a point-to-point operating model that aims to operate nonstop flights between smaller markets that do not otherwise have direct air connectivity.

Breeze Airways planes sit at Tampa Airport TPA on May 26, the day before the airline's inaugural flight
Embraer E190 and E195 jets ahead of the airline’s first day of operations. DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

With the A220s, Breeze has touted its ability to economically fly long, thin routes — those with longer distances but without enough demand to make such a route sustainable using a traditional larger narrow-body jet like the Airbus A320 or the Boeing 737.

As part of Tuesday’s news, Breeze announced that it would add Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN) in New Bern, North Carolina, as its 50th destination, with service from Bradley International Airport (BDL) near Hartford, Connecticut, and Orlando International Airport (MCO) in Florida.

The airline also announced a new route between Huntsville International Airport (HSV) in Alabama and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) beginning June 14.

The A220s entered service in May 2022, featuring Breeze’s first-class seats and customized cabin, along with a longer range of 3,600 nautical miles, long enough to connect any two cities in the contiguous U.S.

Initially, the new jets did not have onboard connectivity, although the airline began retrofitting them later in 2022. By early in the second quarter, the entire fleet will have Wi-Fi and streaming entertainment, Neeleman said Tuesday.

While purchasing new A220s adds significant capital expenses for the company, the jets are 25% more fuel efficient, offering favorable operating costs.

A first-class seat on a Breeze Airways Airbus A220. DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

Still, Breeze appears to have struggled financially since its launch, even as it has rapidly expanded to operate more than 145 routes between 50 destinations. While startup airlines are not expected to turn a profit immediately, filings with the Department of Transportation suggest that the airline has burned through most of its startup capital and is operating at a significant loss (because Breeze is not a publicly traded company, it does not have to publish its complete financials with the Securities and Exchange Commission).

While Neeleman did not answer several questions about financial performance Tuesday, he said that the airline expects to become profitable in 2024.

“We fully anticipate making a profit this year, and then continuing to make a profit, more and more, in years to come,” Neeleman said.

Read more: Breeze adds 3 summer routes from Raleigh-Durham focus city

“The transition line happened later than we anticipated,” Neeleman added. “We didn’t get as efficient as we could have, soon enough, but we’re getting to that point now and so we’re really pleased with the business.”

Along with the new aircraft, Neeleman said that the airline will invest in new flight attendant uniforms.

Meanwhile, Breeze plans to use the Embraer jets exclusively for charter operations, Neeleman said, noting that the airline has had significant business operating charters for NCAA basketball teams. In a press release, the airline said it had seen a 51% increase in charter demand compared to last year.

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