A new start-up airline from JetBlue and WestJet founder David Neeleman will begin service at Harry Reid International Airport in June.
Salt Lake City-based Breeze Airways, which emphasizes employee kindness and “nice” fares in its marketing plan, will launch in Las Vegas with a plane suited to fly long distances economically with a relatively small capacity, a move aimed to take the pressure off filling an aircraft every trip.
Fares will range from $99 one way for the standard Nice fare, a $189 Nicer fare with seats offering extra legroom and a $199 Nicest first-class fare.
Breeze is tearing a page from Southwest Airlines’ playbook by offering free cancellations up to 15 minutes before flight departures and the ability to use that credit to purchase another flight up to two years later.
Breeze is acquiring 80 new twin-engine Airbus A220-300 jets with a capacity of 126 seats. The company has options on 40 more and future versions of the jet will have 137 seats. New aircraft will be delivered once a month for the next six years.
“The A220-300 is a game-changer for us as we now add long-haul flights and transcontinental service,” said Neeleman, Breeze’s founder and CEO. “The A220 embodies the Breeze ideal of merging kindness with technology, pairing unrivaled passenger comfort with eco-friendly efficiency.With the A220, Breeze is giving the widest cabin, highest ceiling, largest windows and biggest overhead stowage in this class, while still managing to burn 25 percent less fuel.”
The Las Vegas flights will include service to Richmond, Virginia; Syracuse, New York; Fort Myers, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; Huntsville, Alabama; Charleston, South Carolina; and Jacksonville, Florida.
The Breeze expansion announced Tuesday is part of a push west for the airline. Breeze flights started last May. The announcement also outlines plans for service to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California.
Breeze, which started in the East and Southeast of the United States, is expanding across the US with 77 routes between 28 cities in 18 states.
The airline will more than double its fleet this year, from 13 Embraer E-190 and E-195 jets to 30 aircraft, including 13 Airbus A220s and fo
Advanced in-flight connectivity
All seats on Breeze’s Airbus fleet are fitted with in-seat AC power and USB-C ports.
Global communications company Viasat Inc. will outfit Breeze’s Airbus A220 fleet with its most advanced in-flight connectivity allowing passengers to seamlessly stream TV or movies, check email, browse the internet, and stay connected via social media or messaging apps while inflight. While Breeze will operate the Airbus A220 starting in May, the first aircraft featuring Viasat connectivity is expected to enter service in October.
Breeze expects to be profitable because it has no direct competition on any of its new routes. All the markets announced for Las Vegas currently have no nonstop flight rivals.
Choosing Las Vegas as a new destination for the airline was a no-brainer, said Lukas Johnson, chief commercial officer for Breeze and a former executive for Allegiant Air.
“It’s really one of the premier entertainment capitals in the world,” he said in an interview.
“Vegas has fantastic service to all the big cities,” he said. “The only thing missing on the Las Vegas map are the midsized cities that are farther away, the coast-to-coast (transcontinentals) … and there hasn’t been a plane type or carrier suited to serve that kind of route until we showed up.”
Johnson said there are no immediate plans to establish any crew bases in Las Vegas.
Chris Jones, chief marketing officer at Reid International Airport, said airport officials began courting Breeze when Neeleman was considering the startup.
“The Las Vegas air service development team first met with the airline’s representatives years ago, when it was still operating under a working title prior to releasing its eventual Breeze name and branding,” Jones said. “No matter what it’s called, it’s great to see this service finally coming to fruition locally and in some other great US markets.”
“What makes this really intriguing is to see how Breeze will take advantage of the Airbus A220’s economics,” he said. “It’s a new aircraft type whose range, fuel burn and seat density should enable it to tackle long-distance, perhaps thinner-demand city pairings yet potentially make them work effectively. We’re already seeing that approach play out in the launch markets Breeze has targeted, none of which currently have nonstops from LAS.
“Others have tried some of these routes in the past, even recently, but found it difficult to consistently fill the cabins of a larger Boeing 737 or an A320 at a level needed to sustain the service. But the A220 works in a ‘sweet spot’ that could successfully reopen these options, or others that previously didn’t make sense financially, whether for Breeze or other carriers – possibly even smaller, non-hub markets outside the United States in years to come.”
Contact Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.