JetBlue founder launches Breeze, eyes Airbus A220 business class

The founder of US challenger JetBlue wants lightning to strike twice with new airline Breeze and a new approach to business class.

By David Flynn, February 8 2020
JetBlue founder launches Breeze, eyes Airbus A220 business class

Breeze Airways – the US startup airline previously known as Moxy – is looking to offer a fully lie-flat business class seat on its Airbus A220 jets, which will begin flying in early 2021.

While Breeze expects to launch before the end of 2020, its initial fleet will be all-economy class Embraer E195 jets with around 120 seats, although the front rows will be an 'economy plus' extra legroom section.

April 2021 will see Breeze add the Airbus A220, with both premium economy-style recliners and flatbed seat under consideration for business class (or in US domestic parlance, first class).

However, lie-flat beds are likely to emerge the winner, especially as Breeze founder and CEO David Neeleman also launched JetBlue, whose Mint 'premium class' electrified the US domestic market with lie-flat beds and, in the case of the 'solo' seats which alternated with paired seats, a sliding suite-style door.

JetBlue's Mint premium cabin: can Breeze make lightning strike twice?
JetBlue's Mint premium cabin: can Breeze make lightning strike twice?

Neeleman says Breeze is working with a leading seatmaker to develop the all-new seat, which will also boast a modular design so they can be be quickly and efficiently removed between flights to suit the needs and economics of different routes.

A flexible first class

“The configuration on the A220 is flexible," Neeleman says. "We can do 145 coach seats with extra legroom in the front, or take out seats before the exit and put in 36 first class seats if we want to."

Those premium seats wouldn't have a personal video screen, so as to facilitate their speedy removal and re-installation: Breeze will beam movies, TV shows and music to passengers' own devices over WiFi, with inflight Internet also on the menu.

Breeze founder and CEO David Neeleman wants to create "the world's nicest airline".
Breeze founder and CEO David Neeleman wants to create "the world's nicest airline".

Neeleman, a serial airline entrepreneur who also kick-started Canada's WestJet and Brazil's Azul, promises Breeze will be "the world's nicest airline" and be low-cost “but not austere."

Fares will begin with a 'basic economy' package topped by optional add-ons selected via the Breeze app – including legroom, inflight meals, additional baggage and even upgrades to business class.

Small to mid-sized cities the focus

The Embraer E195 and Airbus A220 jets will be rolled out across an ambitious (and for now, under wraps) network of point-to-point routes, initially targetting under-served US city pairs which currently don't have any direct flights, and often relying on secondary airports.

"Breeze will fly non-stop service between places currently without meaningful or affordable service," Neeleman says, and deliver  "low-fare, high-quality nonstop flights, with new consumer technology innovations, improving the flying experience while saving travelers both time and money."

Breeze will begin flying in late 2020 with an all-economy Embraer E195 fleet.
Breeze will begin flying in late 2020 with an all-economy Embraer E195 fleet.

The nimble E195s will focus on connecting smaller cities, ideally for flights of up to two hours, with the A220s carving a corridor for mid-size markets. “They are separate missions – one is an apple and one is an orange,” Neeleman explains. “Those planes will never fly on the same route. They won’t be in the same universe, really." 

Asked if Breeze was likely to launch with a nationwide set of destinations or go with a more regional approach, Neeleman said “probably more regionally. We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin.”

"We’ll (also) go to larger cities, but from cities that don’t have any service. I don’t think we’re going to fly a single route anybody is flying on. There’s no reason to fly to places that already have competition."

Breezing overseas

As Breeze takes delivery of more Airbus A220s – it has ordered 60 up front, and has pencilled in a second tranche of 60 more – Neeleman says he expects to add  trans-continental routes between the east and west coasts, as well as to South America and Europe – but with a continued focus on tapping into smaller markets where the A220 could give Breeze a cost-effective edge against the larger Airbus A321 or twin-aisle jets flown by its competitors.

“We can fly them to Europe, we can fly them to South America, even to Hawaii," Neeleman says of the A220. "We can do a lot of different things with that airplane.”


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 163

Breeze Air sounds like an air conditioner...

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 68

So... United's been busy.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 168

I hope he does well with his new airline. When stateside, I prefer JetBlue as it comes closest to the higher standard we enjoy in Australia (perhaps without even realizing how good QF and VA actually are compared to their abysmal US counterparts). If he can replicate that with Breeze, then good on him!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 340

I do love the A220 as an aircraft!! A joy fly on and I see great things for this small little plane!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 81

Excellent news

British Airways - Executive Club

05 Jun 2013

Total posts 1

I wish Breeze Airways all the success it can get. Aside from JetBlue, mainland USA flights are pretty dreadful. Hawaiian Airlines is great, but as everybosy knows, is only great for the islands.

If Breeze does as well with domestic services, as JetBlue has done for itself, then that will be fantastic news.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 716

It's true, within the USA their idea of 'First Class' is beyond a joke. It's so bad, we joked and laughed about it all the way from LAX to PHX (a few years ago now). Yes it was a slightly better quality constructed seat, but barely noticeable. It wouldn't even pass as Business on Virgin or Qantas. As for cabin service, a meal was included in the cost of the airfare whereas Coach pax had to pay, but, honestly, I'm not even certain the meal was any different.

I think Neeleman should add a few Aussie's from Q/V to his team, he could make a killing if this point of difference can pay off.

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