Breeze Airways has revealed its configuration for the Airbus A220-300. Unveiling its first plane today, October 26th, the airline has a backlog of 80 A220s. Destined to go into service from the second quarter of 2022, this exciting aircraft will only seat 126 passengers. The reason for this light configuration is because of the large premium cabin. The A220 is the first aircraft on which Breeze will offer a first class-style product, there will be a whopping 36 seats in this cabin.
A massive premium cabin
The first Airbus A220-300 revealed for Breeze will only seat 126 passengers. However, travelers will have a wide variety of products to choose from. At the front of the plane, Breeze will put an eye-popping 36 premium seats in a two-two configuration (four per row).
These 36 seats will be sold in the “Nicest Fare” category. The seats Breeze has chosen are the Safran Seats Z600. These 20.5-inch wide seats offer a pitch of 39 inches. The best comparison of this product is to a domestic first class product that one can find on American, Delta, or United, for example. Everything from the emergency exit to the front of the aircraft on this aircraft will be this premium cabin.
Behind this, there are ten extra-legroom seats and 80 standard economy seats. These two products are laid out in a 2-3 configuration and are Safran USZ110is. Both of these products are 18.8 inches wide. Extra-legroom seats will have a pitch of 33 inches, while standard legroom seats will have a pitch of 30-31 inches.
Breeze reveals more about its Airbus A220s
Breeze Airways took its first Airbus A220-300 at a celebration in Mobile, Alabama, where Airbus has a final assembly line. The plane will not fly the A220-300 until the second quarter of 2022, by when it plans to have six of the type in its fleet. No routes have been named yet, but David Neeleman, Founder and CEO of Breeze, has stated that the plan is to first use these planes on the carrier’s existing routes for familiarization purposes and then branch off to use these routes on longer-haul routes for which the Embraers are not ideal.
Premium seats will feature in-seat power through AC and USB ports. The economy cabin will only feature USB ports. Breeze has not announced its WiFi partner, but it expects to do so in the coming weeks. The plan is to outfit all A220s with WiFi to allow streaming, internet browsing, and messaging. Breeze has not revealed if some components of WiFi access, namely messaging, will be free or sold at a lower rate than other WiFi access.
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The flexibility of the Airbus A220
Mr. Neeleman highlighted the flexibility of the Airbus A220. The airline is excited about the incredible efficiency the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines offer. In addition, with a range of up to 3,450 nm (6,390 km), Breeze can fly the planes on a whole host of routes.
Mr. Neeleman specifically stated the following on the aircraft:
“The A220-300 is a game-changer for us as we add long haul flights that can average five hours, including transcontinental service. By the end of 2022, Breeze will have 15 A220s in service. This aircraft is the perfect addition to our fast-growing airline as we seek to bring our Seriously Nice™ service to more communities across the U.S. and beyond.”
The 36-seat cabin is certainly eye-popping, but there are a few factors at play. The first, from Mr. Neeleman, is that losing only one seat per row with a premium cabin, compared to two seats per row on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320, for example, makes it a lot easier for Breeze to commit to a larger cabin. Breeze plans to make the cabin available at a more affordable upcharge than what passengers are used to finding on other airlines.
The second consideration is that aircraft seating plans are quite flexible. Breeze can easily flex this premium cabin up or down based on routes and seasonality. In the future, Mr. Neeleman did not rule out lie-flats for the aircraft, which could be a gamechanger for opening up some even longer-haul routes.
Emerging from the crisis, major US airlines have discussed how the demand for premium seats has outpaced 2019 levels. This includes extra-legroom economy and traditional first class products. Breeze will similarly be offering a lot of premium cabin seats that should make it more affordable for people to travel in a more comfortable product. On a transcontinental flight, that could be a lucrative upsell and well-desired product.
Premium seats on a low-cost carrier may sound strange. However, Spirit Airlines offers a Big Front Seat product that has performed quite well. With the bones of a domestic first class product, the airline provides little else in terms of a soft product or amenities and sells the upgraded seating at a price depending on the length of the route, but typically pricing out relatively less than a domestic first class product.
Breeze is still looking at using these aircraft to add new service in “transcontinental markets that lack nonstop flights today.” Plenty of such routes could work, including some with minimal competition with only a couple of flights per week or a maximum single daily flight. It will be interesting to see how this cabin performs and whether Breeze decides to stick with this configuration or move up or down.
As Breeze expands its Airbus A220 fleet, it has not ruled out taking some interesting approaches. Mr. Neeleman reaffirmed his interest in putting flatbed seats on the aircraft and potentially targeting some long-haul routes that the A220 can serve. From a city like Tampa, Breeze can send its A220s down to Lima, for example. Breeze can reach points in Europe from a city like Hartford, Connecticut, including London, Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, etc., using an A220.
In short, the opportunities are pretty extensive for the airline, and it is not going anywhere. With the first Airbus A220 in hand, and the first flights of the jet only a couple of months away, Breeze is gearing up for the next chapter in its expansion after a summer launch.