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On February 7th, 2020, JetBlue founder David Neeleman announced that his next project, Breeze Airways, could take to the skies as early as this year. After years of behind the scenes development, Neeleman’s newest venture, which was previously known as Moxy Airways, was made official with documents filed with the US Department of Transportation. Additionally, Neeleman outlined what passengers can expect from the new airline.

Neeleman is quoted as saying that Breeze Airways is “going to fly where no one else is flying,” this is far from the case. Though Breeze Airways’ initial business plan has been announced, the plan failed to demonstrate the airline’s niche and raises a number of questions.

What Is Breeze Airways

Breeze Airways is a new start-up airline founded by David Neeleman. Neeleman is the co-founder of JetBlue Airways and has been involved in a number of successful airlines across the globe including Azul Linhas Aereas and WestJet.

Breeze Airways Airbus A220 Livery

Proposed Breeze Airways Airbus A220 Livery (Image courtesy of Breeze Airways)

Breeze Airways, which was previously known as Moxy Airways, will be based in the United States with the airline’s headquarters located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Unlike most US carriers, Breeze Airways will operate a point-to-point route network as opposed to a more traditional hub-and-spoke model. Additionally, Breeze Airways will focus on serving secondary cities as opposed to major cities and hubs. The airline will operate a fleet consisting of Embraer E-195s and Airbus A220-300s.

According to Neeleman, the new start-up aims to be the “world’s friendliest airline.” How Breeze Airways will achieve this ambitious goal is unclear. What is also unclear is how Breeze Airways fits into the U.S. market.

Breeze Airways’ Unclear Niche

While an airline operating a point-to-point route network comprised of secondary cities sounds like a relatively new and revolutionary concept, it’s not. Both Allegiant and Frontier operate using a similar network strategy. Additionally, Southwest Airlines claims to operate a point-to-point network model.

Breeze Airways Route Network Proposed

Breeze Airways proposed route map. (Image via Great Circle Mapper)

However, unlike the three airlines previously listed, Breeze Airways plans to offer a hybrid service consisting of elements from low-cost carriers and full-service carriers. By offering customers the option to pay for additional premium services, Breeze Airways appears to have cleared out a niche. Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether or not a market exists for such a niche.

Allegiant, and to some, degree Frontier, are able to serve secondary cities while also bypassing major hubs by offering extremely limited schedules from smaller secondary cities. Allegiant relies heavily on seasonal services as opposed to year-round service from secondary markets. Frontier operates in a similar fashion. Moreso, both Allegiant and Frontier operate an ultra-low-cost carrier business model. The ULCC business model allows each airline to offer extremely low fares however, customer service is often compromised as a result.

This creates a lot of uncertainty around how Breeze Airways will operate. The most recent example of an airline serving secondary cities while offering a premium product is Midwest Airlines. Prior to merging with Frontier, Midwest Airlines operated a similar route network with aircraft similar in size to the aircraft ordered by Breeze Airways. While Midwest Airlines gained a loyal following and became known for customer service, the airline hemorrhaged money up until its dissolution in 2010.

Midwest Class Signature Seat

Midwest Class Signature Seats offered by Midwest Airlines (Image courtesy of Midwest Airlines via Wayback Machine)

Midwest Class Save Seats Midwest Airlines

Midwest Class Save Seats offered by Midwest Airlines (Image courtesy of Midwest Airlines via Wayback Machine)

However, Breeze Airways’ initial business model is also quite similar to that of now-defunct Virgin America. Unlike Virgin America, however, Breeze Airways will serve secondary cities as opposed to large hubs on the east and west coasts. Breeze Airways is similar to Virgin America in that Virgin America operated its main cabin much like a traditional low-cost carrier while also offering customers the option to enjoy an enhanced full-service experience in its Main Cabin Select and First Class cabins. This model was relatively successful and gained a very loyal following.

Virgin America’s swanky Airbus interior. (Image courtesy of Virgin America)

Still, while other airlines have attempted similar models, Breeze Airways appears to be attempting something not yet attempted by any other US airline in the past two decades. At the moment, Breeze Airways appears to be a hybrid positioned somewhere between JetBlue and Allegiant. However, it is still unclear which segment of the market the airline plans on targeting or if a market for such an airline exists.

The Bottom Line: Breeze Airways

It should be noted that Breeze Airways is still in the early stages of development. With the airline still months away from possible launch date, there is still time for management to develop a more clear and concise strategy. Regardless of what strategy or model Breeze Airways decides to follow, Neeleman brings a proven track record of success to the new start-up. Nevertheless, Breeze Airways could be Neeleman’s most ambitious venture yet.

Featured image courtesy of Breeze Airways

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