Almost 20 years after disrupting the staid world of U.S. airline service with the launch of JetBlue, Utah native and serial air travel entrepreneur David Neeleman is back with another project.
Breeze will be the fifth carrier startup for a guy who’s built a reputation for being something of a market oracle when it comes to the airline industry. Neeleman’s previous endeavors include Utah-based Morris Air (acquired by Southwest in 1993), WestJet (currently the No. 2 Canadian carrier), JetBlue and Azul (currently No. 3 among Brazilian domestic carriers).
On Friday, January 31st, Neeleman announced the official name of his new carrier, Breeze Aviation, which will also be headquartered in Utah. The move completes a circle that brings Neeleman back to the place where he grew up and also made his first moves into the airline business.
While rumors of the new effort have been circulating for months under the “Moxy” moniker, the company locked down its brand and is moving forward with a timetable aiming to have planes in the air by the end of this year. “Add a car, add a hotel, cancel a flight, make changes, it will all be there at your fingertips. Completely hassle-free flying.” — David Neeleman, air travel entrepreneur
In an interview with the Deseret News, Neeleman said the impetus behind his continued interest in airline startups boils down to a penchant for recognizing opportunity, and acting on it. “I never started an airline just to start an airline,” Neeleman said. “Right now, we see some pretty gaping holes in the industry.”
While Breeze has not yet announced potential routes, Neeleman’s plan is to identify and leverage nonstop flights between currently underserved airports.
Right now, most major carriers require passengers traveling to and from second-tier airports to connect with a regional hub, then travel on to their ultimate destination. Breeze, Neeleman said, is looking to fill in the connection gaps left by an increasingly hub-focused system.
And, he thinks it can be done in a way that scores a win-win for passengers.
“We can cut the fare in half and get them there faster,” Neeleman said. “And we’re going to do it in a completely new way.”
That new approach, according to Neeleman, will prioritize a customer-centric system focused on making all the ins and outs of air travel, well, a breeze. That will include taking a page from the success of marketplace titans like Uber and Amazon, with an app-based toolkit that will allow passengers to find tickets, change or update travel plans, and add other travel necessities like rental cars and/or accommodations without ever having to deal with a customer service network.