JetBlue founder’s new Breeze Airways picks Virginia for a hub

Breeze Airways has chosen Norfolk, Virginia, as its new operation center. (Courtesy Breeze Airways)

Breeze Airways, a new low-cost airline whose destinations include what it calls underserved destinations, will take flight next week, and is investing $5.2 million to establish an operations center in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Salt Lake City-based startup airline is headed up by JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman. It received U.S. Department of Transportation approval in March and will begin service May 27, between Charleston, South Carolina, Tampa, Florida, and Hartford, Connecticut, with more destinations added through July 22. Its website currently lists 16 cities. It began taking reservations Friday.

It will initially serve seven destinations from Norfolk, six of which currently have no nonstop service.

It says 95% of the routes it will fly currently have no airline serving them nonstop.

Its website lists nonstop flights starting at $39 one way, and is initially operating with 13 Embraer jets, and will take delivery of Airbus A220 aircraft in October.

Breeze Airways trademark is “seriously nice flights and fares.” Its fares are currently classified in two tiers of “nice” and “nicer.” Once it begins taking delivery of the larger A220 aircraft, it will add a third tier of fares called “Nicest.”

The airline, officially Breeze Aviation Group, will create 116 jobs at its Norfolk hub, according to an announcement from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who approved a $400,000 grant from the state’s Opportunity Fund to assist the City of Norfolk with the project. The airline is also eligible for benefits from Virginia’s Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new full-time jobs created.

“Norfolk is a strong inbound destination with a significant number of underserved markets that provide Breeze with many years of growth opportunities. We’re looking forward to providing Virginians with low fares and nonstop service, getting them where they’re going in half the time, usually for about half the price,” said Neeleman, who serves as Breeze Airways CEO.

Richmond is also one of its initial destinations listed on its website.

Neeleman founded JetBlue Airways in 1998 and left in 2007 to start Brazilian airlines Azul. He also founded Canada’s Westjet, and Morris Air, which was purchased by Southwest Airlines, making Breeze his fifth airline startup.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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