New Huntsville Airline CEO Says “We Must Get To Stick Around”
Huntsville’s new airline – Breeze – begins flying in and out of Huntsville International Airport next week with a track record, business plan and proposal, according to founder David Neeleman.
The record is Neeleman’s experience in founding JetBlue, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Morris Air and WestJet. Breeze is its fifth startup airline, a “Low Fare, High Flex” airline starting with service to and from 16 cities.
“These 16 cities are just the start of Breeze,” Neeleman said this week announcing the service. “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s air service have resulted in a significant reduction in flights to many secondary and tertiary markets. There are so many city pairs requiring nonstop service across the country, we have 100 more cities under review. Flying non-stop, Breeze will get you there in half the time, but also for around half the price!
The airline will fly Embraer E190 jets that can accommodate 108 people from Huntsville first to Charleston, New Orleans and Tampa. Usually, the Embraers that supply passengers from small markets to larger hubs are Embraer 175s, he said. “So it’s just a longer and bigger version, which gives us more efficiency and allows us to lower the tariffs,” Neeleman said.
Introductory flights will start at as low as $ 39 each way, with no charge to change or cancel flights. Flights are now on sale at www.flybreeze.com and the Breeze app.
“We have to succeed in sticking around,” Neeleman said, clarifying the proposal. “Tell your friends to come try us. Our motto is “seriously nice”, we can stick to it. “
Neeleman had heard of Huntsville and was in town due to the illness and subsequent death of a family member. While here he saw the growth of the city on his own and was able to visit Redstone Arsenal and see the FBI plans there. “I saw all this economic vitality in the city, all these defense contractors,” he said. “So I said to our guys, damn it, you know, what about Huntsville?” Seems like a good place.
Original destinations are more leisure than business, and that is also intentional. “Business travel has yet to really bounce back from COVID,” Neeleman said. “I think it’s a bit like they figured out how not to travel on business. And companies are very careful with their employees. No one wants to be accused of killing someone by saying you have to travel.
But Neeleman also believes United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby is right. Business travel “is not transactional, it is about relationships”. Kirby recently said, “The first time someone loses a sale to a competitor who came forward (that would be) the last time you would make a sales call on Zoom.”
Neeleman will be in Huntsville next week to host an airport media event.