Baton Rouge, LA (STL.News) Gov. John Bel Edwards, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and CEO David Neeleman of Breeze Airways announced the newly-launched airline will create an operations base with hundreds of jobs at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, or MSY. With operations established by aviation industry veterans, Breeze Airways will make a capital investment of $6.6 million at MSY and will create 261 new direct jobs, with an average salary of $65,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 877 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,138 new jobs in the New Orleans area.
In New Orleans, Breeze Airways will inaugurate direct flights to 10 U.S. destinations. Direct flights will connect New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Akron/Canton and Columbus, Ohio; and Huntsville, Alabama. The airline will launch its first flights connecting New Orleans and Charleston starting July 8, with other connections launching July 15 and 16.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we understand full well the amount of pent-up excitement to travel once more, both for excited tourists to experience our unique and welcoming culture, as well as for Louisiana residents to explore new destinations,” said Gov. Edwards. “Today, I am proud to announce new destination offerings, courtesy of our latest airline partner, Breeze Airways. In addition to these exciting routes, Breeze Airways is also creating great new opportunities for our people as they establish their operations base at MSY. We welcome Breeze Airways and wish them success here in New Orleans and beyond.”
Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Breeze Airways is the latest airline launched by Neeleman, who previously launched JetBlue, Morris Air, WestJet and Azul airlines. Breeze Airways launched with the intention of pairing mid-sized US cities that currently do not have nonstop service. The airline’s debut network comprises 39 nonstop routes between 16 cities in the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Eastern U.S. Breeze will focus most of its flights from four main airports: Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, as well as airports in Tampa, Florida; Charleston and Norfolk.
“Together, we created Breeze as a new airline merging technology with kindness,” said Neeleman. “Breeze provides nonstop service between underserved routes across the U.S. at affordable fares. A staggering 95 percent of Breeze routes currently have no airline serving them nonstop. With seamless booking, no change or cancellation fees, up to 24 months of reusable flight credit and customized flight features delivered via a sleek and simple app, Breeze makes it easy to buy and easy to fly.”
Initially, Breeze Airways will provide up to nine daily departures on peak days, with opportunities for more departures in the future. The airline is launching New Orleans operations with three Embraer E190 aircraft, which can seat up to 108 passengers. Breeze flights will arrive and depart at Concourse A, located on the west end of the new terminal. Passengers may choose from fares that include “nice” regular seating, or “nicer” seats with extra legroom. All of Breeze’s Embraer aircraft will feature a two-by-two seat configuration, so there are no middle seats.
“Our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is putting New Orleans on the best track to be one of the safest places to live and visit,” said Cantrell. “This connection to new and more cities shows that not only are we a safe place to visit, but the right place to do business. With the expansion and investment from Breeze Airways, MSY will continue to serve as a prominent gateway and aviation hub for the state and the Gulf South region.”
Like Neeleman’s earlier ventures, Breeze will provide low-cost airfare and unique destination pairings that open new markets. In advance of the launch this summer, the company has leased 30 Embraer E190s and E195s, and has purchase agreements for 60 new Airbus A220-300 jets. Flights are now on sale at flybreeze.com and the Breeze app, with flights starting at $39 on select one-way flights. The airline is also launching the “BreezePoints” rewards program, which are earned on all purchase any can be used on future flights and ancillary purchases. Guests can cancel or change flights up to 15 minutes before scheduled departure, without incurring a penalty.
“Breeze Airways coming on board at MSY is not only a major win for New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast Region, but it’s also a positive sign that recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 is near,” said Judge Michael Bagneris, Chair of the New Orleans Aviation Board. “As an airport, we are always leaning forward and seeking opportunities to provide more flights options to travelers, and I am thrilled to announce this new partnership with Breeze today. I encourage everyone to take advantage of these convenient, low-cost flights to new destinations across the country.”
Breeze Airways selected MSY as part of its initial slate of destinations, due in part to the city’s broad appeal for tourism, as well as its position among underserved markets – a key target for Breeze’s growth strategy. Additionally, New Orleans is geographically positioned for both short-haul operations and longer-haul operations in the future.
“As we welcome visitors back to Louisiana, I’m thrilled Breeze Airways is coming to New Orleans,” said Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. “With its direct flight offerings, more travelers will have the opportunity to experience how you can ‘Feed Your Soul’ in Louisiana with delicious food, amazing music and a culture unlike anywhere else in the world.”
Representatives from MSY began discussions with Breeze representatives on new activity in New Orleans in May 2019. LED and the City of New Orleans launched discussions with the airline in October 2020 to establish additional support for the project. To secure the airline’s investment in New Orleans, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes the services of LED FastStart® – the nation’s No. 1 workforce training and talent attraction program for the past 11 years. Additionally, the airline will receive a performance-based grant of $2.3 million over the next 10 years to support the company’s entry into MSY. The company also is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs program. Hiring is underway for new jobs at the airline’s New Orleans operations. For employment details, visit jobs.flybreeze.com.
“We are extremely proud that Breeze Airways has recognized the vitality of the New Orleans market by kicking off with a significant presence at MSY and offering greater connectivity to and from this region,” said Kevin C. Dolliole, Director of Aviation for MSY. “With the options for affordable fares to more destinations, we believe the New Orleans community is more than ready to take advantage of everything Breeze Airways has to offer. I thank Breeze for making this significant investment in our local economy, and I am confident this is just the beginning of what will be a long and fruitful partnership.”