Just a year after launching inaugural service, Utah-based startup Breeze Airways announced Friday it will begin service in and out of Provo Airport with a handful of nonstop and single-stop flights to select cities on both coasts as well as Las Vegas.
While primarily serving destinations in the east and southeast of the U.S., Breeze is expanding west with 90 nonstop routes between 31 cities in 18 states.
The Breeze news comes on the same day Provo cuts the ribbon on its new four-gate, 75,000-square-foot terminal. The $55 million project has the capacity to expand to 10 gates and is set to elevate service efficiencies and customer experience at Utah’s second busiest airport.
Veteran airline entrepreneur and Breeze founder and CEO David Neeleman said the improvements to the Provo facility played a key role in the decision to open new operations there, the first Western base for Breeze.
“We’re a Utah headquartered operation, and it feels really good to be able to expand service here,” Neeleman said. “And, hats off to (Provo) Mayor (Michelle) Kaufusi for having the foresight to build the new terminal. We wouldn’t have been able to go there without the new investment.”
With initial Utah flight service set to begin on Aug. 4, Breeze will be adding daily nonstop service from Provo to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. In addition, Breeze will also offer daily one-stop, no plane change service from Provo to New York’s Westchester County and San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles.
“It’s been the question on everyone’s lips since we first opened our headquarters — when are you flying from Utah?” Neeleman said in a statement. “We’re excited to continue growing and hiring from here, and now flying from Utah too. The beautiful, newly renovated Provo airport will give our guests an easy way to travel to both coasts.”
Earlier this year, Breeze announced the opening of a new training academy in Salt Lake City for initial and recurrent training for its pilots, flight attendants and customer service teams. The company currently employs about 70 at its Cottonwood Heights headquarters and said it’s likely to add about 200 new employees as new service begins in Provo.
Breeze said plans are also in place to further build out its Utah workforce. The company will be hiring across a range of positions including finance, operations, marketing and human resources at its headquarters.
Breeze reports it will operate its new routes with its fleet of both Airbus A220s and Embraer 190s. The airline plans to more than double its fleet this year, from 13 Embraer 190 and 195 aircraft to 30 aircraft, including 14 Airbus A220s and three additional Embraer E-Jets. Breeze has ordered 80 new Airbus A220-300 aircraft, which will be delivered one per month over the next six years, with options for 40 more.
What new flights will Breeze offer?
Here are the new Breeze service options from Provo along with introductory fares for new reservations on select routes:
- San Francisco, California (daily nonstop, starting Aug. 4, from $39 one way).
- San Bernardino, California (daily one-stop/no change of plane, starting Aug. 4, from $49).
- Las Vegas, Nevada (daily nonstop, starting Oct. 5, from $29).
- New York/Westchester (daily one-stop/no change of plane, starting Oct. 5, from $99).
- Los Angeles, California (daily nonstop, starting Nov. 2, from $39).
The Breeze expansion to Provo comes amid a resurgence in air travel volumes following a near shutdown of the industry amid the worst of the COVID-19 restrictions. Neeleman noted Breeze, which began life in the midst of pandemic conditions, was seeing record passenger volumes in the last few months.
While elevated fuel costs have driven up the price of all modes of travel, it appears pent up demand is likely to overpower travelers’ budget considerations.
In a March Deseret News interview, Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo managing director and senior economist, said consumer travel demand appears likely to trump any hesitation wrought by higher prices, whether at the gas pump or the cost of airline tickets, when it comes to the 2022 travel season.
“There are a lot of different ways to look at it, but the whole concept of ‘revenge travel’ has some merits to it,” Vitner said. “People have been putting off travel for two years and are looking to get out ... and I don’t think higher gas prices are going to impede that.”
Neeleman has ridden out numerous market shifts and economic challenges as a seasoned veteran of the airline industry.
Breeze is Neeleman’s fifth airline startup, having previously launched JetBlue, onetime Utah-based provider Morris Air, Canada’s WestJet and Brazil’s Azul Airlines.
Just ahead of Breeze service going live last May, Neeleman told the Deseret News that this time around, his new airline was shooting for providing service that connects cities in secondary market airports, pushing back against a long-running industry bent toward concentrating operations and flights at select hub facilities.
Breeze is also embracing a slew of tech tools and flexibility options that, along with lower prices and a customer-centric business approach, Neeleman believes will make his newest airline venture stand out among competitors.
“Together, we created Breeze as a new airline merging technology with kindness,” Neeleman said in May. “Breeze provides nonstop service between underserved routes across the U.S. at affordable fares.
“A staggering 95% 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.”