Last week I built up the case for Breeze’s presumed use of the A220 on long-haul from Hartford. The first routes are now out, and… oops. I assume Breeze will eventually do Hartford long-haul, but to start, it’s a whole jumble of things that the airline has clearly been planning for a long time. Hartford long-haul flying just isn’t one of them.
Breeze is adding 35 new routes that touch 10 new cities. It’s a route-a-palooza, and there doesn’t seem to be one trend running through this announcement. Some are on the A220, others on the Embraer. And there’s one route that, well, it just stands out. But I won’t get to that until the end. Let’s see if I can break this down into bite-sized pieces.
Let’s start with the airline’s first A220 routes. Here’s a Great Circle Mapper look.
What stands out? Obviously it’s all that flying in the West. The A220 was made to fly longer distances, and it is getting a workout from the start.
Las Vegas is the big winner here, and that’s really not a surprise. It will get flights from Charleston (SC), Fort Myers, Huntsville, Jacksonville, Norfolk, Richmond, and Syracuse, all twice-weekly except for 3x weekly to Charleston and Jacksonville. None of these markets currently have a Vegas flight. Richmond was an experiment for JetBlue during the pandemic, and Frontier did Fort Myers, Jacksonville, and Norfolk for a couple years before the pandemic. Other than that, Southwest did Jacksonville and Norfolk in the past, but it’s been a few years.
Breeze is trying to find that sweet spot where it can go long from Vegas and pick up markets that Allegiant can’t run as well… at least until the MAXs show up. But maybe Breeze will be established by then. Either way, these seem to have a decent chance of working, especially with such low frequency.
In a bit of a surprise, both Los Angeles and San Francisco will also be in the mix. The former will have 2x weekly to Savannah and Providence along with 3x weekly to Norfolk while the latter will have 2x weekly to Louisville and Richmond plus 3x weekly to Charleston. The only reason this is a surprise is that David Neeleman loves his secondary airports, and these are no secondary airports. I wonder if his team was able to convince him that you need at least one primary airport if you’re doing a transcon. If so, good for them, because that makes this a far less insane proposition.
The rest of the new A220 flying is short-haul, and it’s here that Hartford shows up prominently. It will have 2x weekly to Akron/Canton and Sarasota plus 4x weekly to Jacksonville, Nashville, and Savannah. With the exception of Akron/Canton, these are all new cities for the airline, and it fits with the narrative that Hartford would become an important base. I just figured that it would go longer first, but that does not appear to be the case.
The rest of the A220 flying looks like an effort to balance the long-haul with a short-haul in order to get better utilization. That’s why we see 2x weekly in Norfolk – Jacksonville and Savannah, Columbus – Savannah, Charleston – Fort Myers and Syracuse, and Nashville – Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
There’s a lot to unpack in here. Jacksonville is a new destination which makes sense considering it’s part of the bottomless pit of demand that is Florida, albeit somewhat less-so than further south. Nashville is new too. Nashville, you may remember, was supposed to be one of the first bases for the airline when it was leaked, but it was left off the list when the official announcement came. Now it’s starting up with a mix of A220s and Embraers, but it’s all short-haul.
And what about those Embraers? Well, they are doing more work this summer as expected. Jacksonville gets a bunch of new destinations with 2x weekly to Columbus, New Orleans, Providence, and Richmond. This, by the way, is the only new flight New Orleans gets. Of the four original bases, that one has performed the worst.
Providence also picks up some good flying beyond Jacksonville with Columbus, Richmond, and Savannah. Then there are the stragglers of Akron/Canton – Nashville and Hartford – Richmond, both of which seem like connecting the dots and flowing airplanes more than anything else.
And finally, there’s the weirdest one of them all. The only daily flight in the entire announcement is a single daily morning flight from San Bernardino to San Francisco and back. San Bernardino, as you might remember from the guest post by The Cardinal back in 2019, lies about a half an hour east of Ontario Airport. It has never had commercial service despite having built a terminal years ago.
This route is flown by an Embraer which makes it a completely orphaned route since there is no Embraer flying anywhere else west of the Rockies. So what the heck is this about? I know there’s a lot of maintenance work at San Bernardino, so this could be a way to flow airplanes into a base, but with a daily flight and no other connectivity in the network, that seems very weird. Maybe we’re going to see new service at some point. If so, this may make more sense, but then again, it’s unclear how much service San Bernardino can support.
San Bernardino is great in that it has no competition, but there’s a reason for that. It’s not very well positioned compared to other airports in the region. Of course, Breeze wouldn’t try this flight from Ontario because there is already ample service from there to the Bay Area. San Bernardino is just an odd choice, but I can tell you… it’s one that I’ll probably take for a spin sometime just for fun.
This is a momentous day for Breeze since it really is the first time the airline has showed off its original business plan. The Embraers were an after-thought that came later, but the A220s were the heart of the original plan. I imagine some of this, like the Las Vegas flying, will work. The rest, well, we’ll see how it turns out.