20 years after the launch of JetBlue, David Neelman, the serial aviation entrepreneur will lanch Breeze, another US airline. Known as the Moxy initially, it recently revealed its airline name and strategy.
But why should we be interested in this venture ? Why does it make it more trustworthy than other startups in the same region? It all comes to the men behind this venture.
One more startup for Neelman
Many airlines startups are not taken seriously. Their founders are or not from the airline business or have not a major business experience of the travel and aviation industry. However, few have a proven track record of airlines startups. Many lost their faith and money with such ventures. Few really succeeded and remained in the industry to restart again a new project.
David Neelman is one of these serial air entrepreneurs that created or reinvented multiple airlines. He did not just created and scale up one airline nor two or three but four from scratch.
His career as an executive manager in the airline business started with Morris Air, a low-cost airline headquartered in Salt Lake City. At the time it was not really an airline but a travel agency that chartered planes from other companies to operates flights under its brand.
The company also started what is common sence for us : e-ticketing. Before that you would need to go to a travel agent or an airline ticket counter to be able to book a flight.
The company eventually obtained its air operator certificate in 1992 and operated about 20 Boing 737-300 before being sold to Southwest Airlines in 1993.
During the nineties, David Neelman was one of the founders Westjet, a Canadian low-cost airline. It started with the same business model as Morriss Air but was and airline operating with its own staff and fleet from day one.
In 1996, with a few Boeing 737-200, the company started to link Calgary to domestic destinations such as Edmonton, Kelowna, Vancouver or Winnipeg and expanded rapidly through western Canada.
The company benefited from the lack of competition on he wester Canada as Air Canada was more focussed on the east of the country and the other competitor, Cannadian Airlines, was not in a good shape (and was eventually merged with Air Canada)
It’s now one of the two major airlines in Canada and, from a domestic flight point of view, they are on par with Air Canada.
After its Canadian adventure, David Neelman came back to the United State to disrupt the airlines business with a new kind of airline and new ideas about how to offer services to its passengers. Jetblue started its operation in 2000, just before one major downturn that the aviation business faced.
If it initially followed the business model of Southwest (after all it worked well for Morris Air and Westjet), it sought to distinguish itself by its amenities, such as in-flight entertainment, TV at every seat, and Sirius XM satellite radio. It’s now a major player from its hubs of New York JFK, Boston and Forth Lauderlade
The story is less glorious this time as he was pushed out and replaced as CEO of the company after a memorable storm that JetBlue failed to manage.
Last but not least, David Neelman, further to his eviction from Jetblue, went to South America to start a new airline in Brasil: Azul.
This Brazilian startup created its niche in the market by providing a good service and frequency to domestic relations overlooked by its competitors.
It started with five Embraer E190 and E195 and the company as now a five aircraft type fleet (Embraer E190 / E195, ATR 72, Airbus A320 and A330) and files to North America and Europe.
What is the Breeze plan?
As you can see, David Neelman created many companies but those are not really different from one to the other. We could also affirm that each is the evolution of its “predecessor”. Breeze will be no exeption.
Morris Air was a low-cost ticket provider that evolved into a real airline. Westjet was a real airline from start and provided a fresh look to the aviation business in Canada. JetBlue improved the low-cost concept by including inflight entertainment and flights from main airports when low-cost airlines at the time prefered the use of secondary airports to save cost. Azul created its niche the market of low-cost flights with more frequency from overlooked destinations.
Guess what. Breeze will have a lot in commons with the first attempts of David Neelman. Her is what we know about it
- It will be a low-cost airline (like alls of the previous attempts)
- It will connect overlooked relations within the United States or beyond (like Azul did in Brazil)
- It will disrupt the market with technologies (the improvement from other
Technically if we are quick to resume, David Neelman will bring into the USA the concept of Azul by linking airports that are not linked today. He’s not shy about this in the interview he had with Cranky Flier.
A lot of it is overflying hubs; where we can look at what the [daily passengers each way] PDEWs are and say “okay, well there’s 30 people to go between these two cities a day. If we lower the fare by half and can get them there twice as fast — which in some cases is even more important — instead of taking 4 hours to get you there, it’ll take an hour and 22 minutes to fly direct… People will go more often, and that’s been proven over and over again with what Allegiant does.Cranky Flier
Breeze will essentially create its niche through untaped direct domestic relations. As those relations are not direct, a passenger doesn’t flight as often as if they would have the choice of a direct flight. Offer them a direct flight and they will travel more often and the market will change.
But this is not the only change that he wants to bring to the US market. As every iteration of its airlines adds a twist versus the previous one Breeze will be no exception. Don’t say him that he’s launching another ultra-low-cost company (a business model that happen to be quite successful) as he replied to CNN Traveler.
I think it’s going to be low cost, but when you say “ultra-low cost,” that means you have to treat everyone like garbage. I prefer to say we are a high-tech company that just happens to fly airplanes. We are going to build all the technology out; it’s going to be like using the Uber app or the Amazon app, and we will have a whole menu of things on the airplanes and on the ground, and we will take care of you.CNN Traveler
90% of the interaction between the passenger and the airline can and will be digital. It may sound impossible but he express this in an analogy to Uber and Amazon. When is the last time that you talked to one of their employees? For most of us, the answer is never. We purchase online and are delivered from Amazon. We order a ride on an application and a subcontractor of Uber met us and drive us as we requested the service to do.
Would you like to fly an airline on which you only meet flight attendant or pilots? An airline where any issues with delays, cancellation, rebooking or compensation are handled with your smartphone?
This may be the future of commercial aviation.
Where do they stand now?
Currently, Breeze has a team of employees working to set up the airline at its headquarter in Salt Lake City. The airline has no aircraft nor operator certificate yet. As of July, we know that they made a bid to purchase the certificate of Compass Airways, a US regional airlines that ended its activities this year.
The first batch of aircraft will come from Azul. Theses Embraer E195 will allow the airline to start the certification process and if all the check as crossed, start to fly before the end of 2020. No specific date is provided which make sense as this is entirely dependent to their obtention of an operator certificate but David Neelman is confident that Breeze will operate its first flights about 60 days after the obtention of the Air Operator Certificate.
The future will tell us what will actually mean “digitalisation”, if it really change the way Americans take a flight and if the rest of the world embrace this movement.