Will JetBlue’s founder new airline “Breeze” take off?

Breeze Airways

Twenty years after launching JetBlue, founder David Neeleman announced in February that applications were made with the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to start-up the new airline Breeze (formally Moxy Airways).

Dubbed ‘the World’s Nicest Airline’ by Neeleman, its operations were to initially target mid-sized US city pairs that don’t currently have nonstop service. “Breeze will fly non-stop service between places currently without meaningful or affordable service,” said Neeleman, Breeze’s CEO and president.

David Neeleman has a great track record when it comes to starting airlines – JetBlue, Morris Air, WestJet and Azul – but will this new venture take-off now that the world has been gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With around 75% of the world’s airline fleet parked and travel demand down by 90%, major airlines are now in a precarious position. Aviation experts have predicted that it will take at least three years for the industry to bounce back.

On 5 March 2020, UK carrier Flybe filed for administration and ceased all operations. The airline which was previously struggling for several months, claimed that its difficulties were compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on bookings.

On 21 April 2020, Virgin Australia, the largest airline by fleet size to use the Virgin brand, went into administration.

Smaller regional US carriers like Trans States Airlines and Compass Airlines also fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic and ceased operations in April.

Many airlines have retired the older aircraft in their fleet rather that parking them, which incidentally also comes at a cost.

Aircraft manufactures like Boeing and Airbus have laid off thousands of staff and cut production. Furthermore, some airlines expecting the arrival of new aircraft this year have instead deferred their deliveries.

The few aircraft that are flying within the US are carrying an average of 17 passengers according to Airlines for America (A4A).

The new airline has leased 30 Embraer 195 aircraft and were slated for delivery starting in May. It has also ordered 60 new Airbus 220-300 airplanes with deliveries starting in April 2021.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a statement on the website says “Our plan to be a vibrant and exciting entrant into the commercial aviation arena is well underway…and we’re working hard to create the sort of culture where kind people want to work and fly”.

So with all the turmoil in the world and Breeze’s strategy and optimism, will the airline take off anytime soon?