Breeze Reveals Its First A220 Routes, and I Was Wrong

Breeze

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.

26 comments on “Breeze Reveals Its First A220 Routes, and I Was Wrong

  1. Cranky,
    Who owns the airport and why would someone build an airport in the middle of nowhere?

    1. Looks like the SBD airport is owned by a local airport authority, and exists because it was formerly a military base that specialized in military air cargo; it now sees some commercial air cargo flights.

    2. Baron – It’s the old Norton Air Force Base, so that’s why it was first built out there. But now it’s not in the middle of nowhere, it’s just not near the most desirable travel areas. It’s only half an hour east of ONT which is better located for most, and it’s an hour west of Palm Springs.
      So… yeah. But the original terminal build resulted in jail. Just look up Scot Spencer and SBD.

  2. CHS local here and the Breeze rollout has been fascinating to watch. I was generally down on it last year because it was so rushed and there wasn’t much marketing to go along with it, but I’m coming around – their presence at the airport is so large its getting hard to miss. I’ve lost count of all their non-stop routes too (never had a carrier at CHS you could say that about!).

    Other noteworthy thing that I see (and Cranky has noted before) as the secret sauce is how reasonably priced their premium cabins are. As a frequent leisure traveler, premium cabins on the legacy carriers are usually just too pricey and we’ll never get enough status for regular upgrades as non-business travelers, plus they just don’t exist and/or aren’t worth it on most (U)LCCs.

    Breeze though? Already have 2 round trips booked in the “Nicest” A220 cabins because it was only a slight mark-up from regular economy on legacies and you get a lot for slight mark-up (checked bags, seat assignments, nice seats, legroom, etc.). If Breeze has staying power… still a big IF… I think it’ll be because they’re selling a premium product for (about) the same price as the legacy sardine cans.

  3. With regards to secondary airports, is there one in the LAS area – 50 mile radius? That may be why they chose to serve LAS direct, as Allegiant has done.
    In the SFO and LAX areas, there are plenty to choose from, so very curious as to why they chose to go in directly to those. (given the higher costs and longer delays that come from operating there)

    1. I agree, it seems odd for Breeze to choose to fly into LAX and SFO directly with the other options in the area. My only theory with the SFO choice is that they wanted OAK but the limited gate capacity forced them across the bay and that they’re confident the daily flying and brand recognition they’re bringing to the Bay Area will offset the high landing/ground handling fees. Time will tell!

      As far as Vegas, LAS is really the only feasible commercial airport in southern NV. HND and VGT are both in the area but not suitable for anything larger than recreational flying or regional jets (even that would be pushing it).

  4. I’m wondering if we’ll see any retaliation from United on the SFO flights or if demand on the SFO side for these markets is so minuscule that it’s not worth it for them to lose money and dump a bunch of capacity. SFO-CHS is the only one of these routes where I could see them using an A319, as it’s become more popular as a destination over recent years and it’s the only one with existing transcontinental service (although Alaska’s Seattle service probably wouldn’t exist without Boeing). In any event I’m very interested to see how this unfolds with the legacies, but my bet is that not much happens due to Breeze’s flights presumably catering more to originating demand to the west coast rather than passengers in SFO/LAX who would likely already have most of these flights if enough wanted them.

  5. Most of these routes fit the pattern of small city to some sort of leisure destination, but what exactly is the market for BDL-CAK?

    1. Alex – If you figure out that answer to that, I’d love to hear it. I know BDL-CMH was a good insurance route, but that only makes sense for a business travel-focused airline. This is just infrequent service so it’s for leisure purposes.

      1. There is no nonstop service between NE Ohio ( CLE, CAK ) and BDL. Flights on Friday and Monday allow for a weekend getaway. The service is seasonal for the summer only.

  6. Any word on which Terminal Breeze will be at LAX?
    I assume they will be stuck on the check in at “1.5” and take a Shuttle bus to the TBIT Midfield Concourse that Allegiant is stuck with.

      1. So after one little pandemic, our grand, refurbished Bradley terminal, costing LA taxpayers a couple billions, is now being used by leisure airlines on sub-daily flights to this country’s hinterlands…

  7. Given where fuel prices are and the levels they will likely continue to climb to, the entire industry is staring down another huge obstacle that stands in the way of its recovery and the Avelos and Breezes of the industry are likely to fail as a result. And quickly.

    1. Don’t worry – the airlines will likely first add a “Fuel Surcharge” to every segment. That will be followed shortly by a rush to Capitol Hill for (yet another) bailout. After all, they are private-sector free market entities, right?

  8. “This, by the way, is the only new flight New Orleans gets. Of the four original bases, that one has performed the worst.”

    Is it strange that Tampa gets nothing at all in this round, or is it just that with Tampa being substantially larger than Norfolk or Charleston there are fewer opportunities for flights to the west? Southwest and Spiritfrontier are already on LAS and DL, AA, AS, and UA all fly to LAX from TPA. Only UA flies to SFO, so there might be some opportunity there in the future.

    And Sarasota-Bradenton gets yet another airline…it’s getting busy down there! SRQ was my home airport for a while, and I can remember when there were only four or five airlines (counting the Canadian seasonal service) there. Nice!

  9. All I can add is this: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been wrong, I’d make Bill Gates look like a pauper.

  10. I’m surprised they went for LAX – PVD over LAX – BDL. PVD is close to Logan that if you wanted a nonstop, you just go up to Logan. Four airlines fly that route nonstop. Bradley is a couple hours from both Logan and NYC.

    The other surprise is LAX – SAV over LAX – JAX. Jacksonville is much, much bigger than Savannah. Savannah is more fun to visit than Jacksonville, but that size difference is huge.

      1. OK. That explains why. I’m surprised that JetBlue flies those routes since I don’t think of them as having much to do with the West Coast especially after they left Long Beach. Plus, I remember Delta trying JAX – LAX years ago and failing.

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