The businessman David Neeleman has been dedicated in recent years to the creation of Breeze Airways, a new U.S low cost airline that should debut this year. But his new venture will have to wait a little longer to become reality, as pointed out by the company’s website, which foresees the start of service in 2021.
Officially launched in February, Breeze will use an unprecedented strategy to operate in the market that Neeleman considers revolutionary. The goal is to create a “digital airline”, with few employees and streamlined processes that will allow passengers to customize their needs to an unprecedented level. Thanks to this it will be possible to have a lower operating cost than its competitors.
The planning of the air network, still unknown, should focus on medium-sized cities that are not directly connected by major airlines such as American, United and Delta Air Lines. To serve these destinations, Breeze will use a mixed fleet with new A220-300 jets, from Airbus, and used aircraft from Embraer – 30 E195-E1 units that are currently in the fleet of Azul, another of its airlines.
However, the agreement between the two companies, also announced earlier this year, predicted that Azul would ship the first planes in the first half of this year, but the coronavirus pandemic affected that prediction.
As a result, the jets are still stored in Brazil and are not expected to be relocated to Breeze in the short term, according to a statement sent by the Brazilian airline: “The lease agreement with Breeze is still valid, but deliveries are temporarily suspended. For that reason, none of the aircraft was sent to the company.”
At the same time, Azul itself has also revised its fleet modernization plans, which include suspending deliveries of the new E195-E2 model, previously considered strategic to allow the withdrawal of the first generation E195s, sub-leased not only to Breeze but also for the company LOT.
Launching a new airline on the market, especially with a low cost proposal, is a tremendous challenge due to the uncertainties caused by COVID-19 in commercial aviation and which have put in doubt the survival of hundreds of airlines worldwide.
With passenger demand declining and the prospect that social isolation restrictions will continue to be in place in many regions, in addition to the lack of treatments or a vaccine, it seems unlikely that Neeleman will be able to materialize his project anytime soon.
Neeleman, in fact, has used his profile on Twitter to comment on the evolution of the pandemic instead of analyzing the air transport market, as expected. This behavior seems to indicate that the entrepreneur conditions the future of Breeze to the changes to come in the airline industry.