Jet Blue founder's Breeze Airways cleared for takeoff by DOT

CEO Neeleman vows Breeze will be 'the world's nicest airline'

Breeze Airways, a new airline start-up created by Jet Blue founder David Neelemen, was cleared for takeoff by the Department of Transportation on Wednesday.

The agency granted Breeze a "certificate of public convenience and necessity,” which will allow the airline to carry passengers, freight and mail for interstate travel on up to 22 aircraft for up to one year.

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According to an application submitted last year, the airline plans to fly to “neglected, forgotten markets” in 2021 using smaller planes to reduce costs. Breeze's initial markets will be underserved cities that are currently without nonstop service, including destinations east of the Mississippi River, the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

"Many of these destinations are secondary leisure markets that have favorable costs for value conscious travelers or second homeowners," the company wrote in its application. "These markets in many cases support once a day service or service a select few days of the week. Over time the routes will cover the entire country."

Photo courtesy of Breeze Airways

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Neeleman co-founded Morris Air, which was sold to Southwest Airlines in 1993. In 1998, he started New York-based JetBlue and served as its CEO until 2007, then left to found Brazilian airline Azul, where he remains chairman after stepping down as CEO in 2017.

According to Breeze's website, the company is hiring for flight attendants, engineers and maintenance technicians. Neeleman has vowed Breeze will be “the world’s nicest airline.”

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS 19.85 -0.06 -0.30%
AZUL AZUL S.A. 21.31 +0.62 +3.00%

According to a company filing in September, Neeleman owns a 35.9% stake in Breeze and is the company's chief executive officer. On August 28, Breeze raised approximately $83 million from equity investors through a Series A financing round.

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Breeze agreed to acquire 60 Airbus 220-300 aircraft produced in Mobile, Alabama in December 2018, with deliveries beginning in August 2021. The A220 can hold up to 160 passengers.  Prior to the A220 deliveries, Breeze plans to start service using Embraer E190/E195 aircraft equipped with 108 or 118 seats respectively. The E195s will include up to 28 aircraft owned and leased from Azul.

Breeze’s corporate headquarters will remain in Darien, Connecticut, while its commercial operations will be based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For Federal Aviation Administration certification, Breeze will conduct line maintenance at its facility in Islip, New York and heavy maintenance at an Embraer facility in Nashville, Tennessee.