Breeze Airways is targeting beginning operations with its new A220s in the second quarter of next year. While the initial routes may well be closer to home, the range of the aircraft opens up possibilities much further afield. CEO David Neeleman told Simple Flying Europe is definitely on the cards for the future network of his fledgling airline.
New plane, new missions
The addition of the A220 to the Breeze Airways fleet is an exciting step for the startup airline. Having seen it through the summer with its Embraer E-Jet fleet, the carrier is now taking its first step on building one of the biggest A220 fleets in the world.
The first A220 reveal uncovered a surprisingly premium-heavy cabin, with 36 domestic first class seats at the front of the plane. CEO David Neeleman revealed to Simple Flying at our Future Flying Forum that this area forward of the exit door is configured for quick changes, allowing the airline to choose between 36 recliners, 20 or so lie flat seats, or a full economy cabin.
That gives us a clue as to what the mission profiles of these aircraft are likely to be. While some will undoubtedly take over some of the E-Jet’s shorter but denser routes, the additional range that comes with the A220 will certainly be put to good use too. Neeleman told us,
“These 220s are going to fly decidedly more long-haul flights. Here today, our average flights are maybe an hour and 15 to an hour and 20 minutes. These planes will fly three plus hours, maybe even an average of closer to four hours.”
In fact, the A220 can go further than that and could see its range further boosted with additional fuel storage. Neeleman stated that he is in conversation with Airbus regarding the auxiliary fuel tanks in development for the ACJ TwoTwenty, and whether these could be installed on some of his future A220s.
“We’re saying, OK, well, let’s just put one of those on our airplane, which would give us a range of about 4000 miles.”
When asked if such huge range would see Breeze arriving in Europe, Neeleman replied, “Absolutely.” Speaking about the extra fuel tanks he is hoping to have installed, he said that,
“That [range] would take us from the Northeast into Europe, to reach several destinations in Europe, and from Florida to almost of all the cities in Brazil and others in central Latin American, and of course to Hawaii. So, you know, there’s a lot of different things we can do when we have that kind of range.”
But, of course, Breeze is keen to stick to its blueprint of finding unserved and underserved connections to fly. It’s not keen to compete on the over-trafficked routes that are already well established. Neeleman commented,
“We’re not going to fly to Heathrow, and we won’t fly from New York, Maybe you could see a flight from you know, maybe Burlington, Vermont to a secondary airport in England. We have routes we can do, routes that nobody flies, and we’re committed to flying our planes on routes that nobody else is flying. And we can do that because our trip costs are so much lower.”
Neeleman was keeping his cards close to his chest on the subject of his initial destinations for the A220. However, with a target to start flying them in Q2 of 2022, it shouldn’t be too much of a wait to hear those first routes announced. Even without the additional fuel tanks, some of Europe – Ireland, the UK and some of France and Spain, for example, are within reach from Breeze’s base in Norfolk.
However, with the desire to add more fuel storage in order to open up more of Europe, perhaps the transatlantic launch will be a bit longer coming. Breeze is likely to want to get maximum utilization out of the aircraft before stretching its wings, and there are still plenty of destinations to target a bit closer to home in the meantime.