Breeze Airways is taking its “Seriously Nice” branding to new levels with the delivery of its first A220-300 today in Mobile, Alabama. The carrier introduced its “Nicest” fare offering (joining the existing Nice and Nicer) and long-touted on-board premium cabin option.
In a nod to what the company expects to be strong demand for a leisure premium service level, the premium cabin will stretch all the way to the over wing exits: the A220-300 will feature 36 “Nicest” seats on board.
If you can go transcon and pay an extra 50 bucks for first class, we think people will do that.– Breeze Founder & CEO David Neeleman
Justifying the heavy premium configuration, Founder and CEO David Neeleman notes, “The first class is a 2-2 layout, so you lose half as many seats (compared to economy) as you do on a 737 or A320. When I heard that I could just give up 10 more coach seats and get 22 more first class seats, that was pretty tempting.”
Neeleman also expects the fare premium for the Nicest offering will be relatively low. Exact pricing will, however, vary by route and demand. Chief Commercial Officer Lukas Johnson does not expect that the Nicest seats will end up filled for free. “It is just a pricing exercise” to get to the correct sales levels.
The Nicest seats are pitched at 39″ and include a foot rest. Breeze selected the Safran Seats Z600 seat for the premium product.
The plane also offers two rows of “Nicer” extra leg room seats, including an exit row with an astounding 49″ pitch. The second Nicer row offers a plenty comfortable 33″ layout.
Another 80 regular economy (“Nice”) seats fill the back half of the new Breeze A220. The first row of economy is pitched at 31″ while the rest are 30″. For the Nice and Nicer seats Breeze selected Safran Seats’ Z110i.
The aircraft features three lavatories on board, including access for passengers with reduced mobility. The rear pair of lavs are behind the exit door, adjacent to the galley. This is a generally more cramped layout, but also allows for the extra seats in the cabin.
What’s nicer than “Nicest??”
Back when the A220 plans were first announced Neeleman highlighted the ability to quickly adjust the cabin layout, including installation of flat beds for true long-haul service. He doubled down on that idea at the unveiling.
The 36 seat Nicest cabin could become a 21 bed layout in just a day or two, with Neeleman hinting at service to South America with that layout.
It could also become a 145 seat, all-economy setup in a similar amount of time.
Such shifts will be driven by demand and seasonality of routes, according to Neeleman.
High speed WIFi…eventually
The “Nicest” fare also includes high speed internet service on board. Or it will once the system is selected and installed.
Neeleman acknowledges the service will not be available on day one, despite that being roughly five months away. He also notes the company has not settled on a pricing plan for the rest of passengers, “We’re still determining if that’s going to be free for texting and then a nominal charge; we’ll announce that later.”
This delay echoes the company’s announcement for launch streaming IFE on the Embraer fleet, only to see that rollout delayed through the summer.
All USB-A and USB-C power. Nicest seats also offer 110V outlets. (A previous version of the story listed all seats as having 110V based on incorrect details initially provided.)
No routes yet
Breeze will not immediately press the A220 into service. Nor will the company announce route plans for the type just yet.
Part of that is based on FAA certification requirements the carrier must complete before the new type can carry passengers. But Breeze also wants to make a big splash when the A220s finally do begin operations, with six taking flight in that initial tranche of service. The company currently hopes to hit that target in the March or April 2022 timeframe.
As for markets to serve, longer routes, including transcontinental city pairs, are clearly part of the plan. But the company also expects to maintain its variable operating schedule by day of week.
Neeleman knows that these new planes have to fly more than the Embraer fleet to cover their costs, but still believes that they can average 12+ hours per day with an 18-20 hour peak day operation and much less (or even nothing) against slack demand mid-week.
For now the company anticipates mostly building from the existing bases at Tampa, New Orleans, Charleston, and Norfolk “to places that we don’t fly to today.” But those won’t be the only destinations the new planes touch as the fleet and network grow.
Breeze expects to have 15 A220s in service by the end of 2022, and to maintain a growth pace of one aircraft per month through the current order book of 80 aircraft.
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