Breeze Airways, a new US start-up carrier looking to launch in this year, has reportedly ordered an additional 20 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, bringing its total A220 order to 80 jets, according to industry sources.
Breeze was founded in 2018 by industry veteran David Neeleman, who previously co-founded a number of airline ventures including Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue and Azul Linhas Aereas.
In July 2018, the airline signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the purchase of 60 A220 aircraft, a deal that was officially penned in January 2019.
Jets purchased under this first agreement were initially scheduled to be delivered in April of this year, however this has now been pushed back to October 2021.
The Utah-based airline has now signed on for an additional 20 jets, bringing its A220 order to a total of 80 jets.
The order matches up with that of an ‘undisclosed buyer’ from Airbus’ March orders and deliveries report. Neither Airbus nor Breeze have made public comment on the order.
With a total of 80 jets, this latest order reportedly makes Breeze Airways the world’s second-biggest A220 customer after Delta Air Lines.
Breeze has now overtaken JetBlue, also founded by Neeleman, for the silver medal spot by 10 orders.
Despite the fact that the airline is not expecting to take delivery of any of its ordered A220s until late 2021, the carrier is gearing up to launch in the lucrative US summer travel season.
“There is a tonne of pent-up demand on the leisure side [of the market],” Neeleman told the World Aviation Festival online event last week.
The airline currently boasts a fleet of second-hand Embraer 190 and 195 aircraft, many of which are being subleased from Neeleman’s Brazilian venture, Azul.
While Breeze has made no announcement of which routes it will tackle, Neeleman has said it will focus on non-stop short-haul and underserviced leisure routes for the summer, and reduce travel times by avoiding major hubs.
According to Neeleman, around 80 per cent of Breeze’s planned summer routes face no competition.
“So, what happens in that case is that you generate maybe six, seven, eight, up to 10 times more traffic than you actually take from everyone else,” Neeleman said at the event.
“If you’re in a really small market, we’re not talking about just medium-sized markets, we’re talking about small markets, where maybe you connect through a hub and it would have taken you three hours to get there. Now we can get you there in an hour and 15 minutes.”
Neeleman said that once it takes delivery of its first A220s later this year, the airline will tackle longer domestic routes.
The airline chief executive noted that while costs for second-hand Embraer jets have taken a dive during the pandemic, the Airbus models will be cheaper to operate long-term.
However, he said that the airline intends to keep both aircraft in its fleet going forward.