Breeze Airways kicked off the summer by bringing its A220 fleet online. Eventually that should be good news for passenger comfort. But the teething pains the carrier is experiencing today are bad news for passengers and the airline alike, especially as peak summer travel hits.
An analysis of nearly 60 “aircraft days” of operation shows fewer than 15% of the trips managed a full day out and back from base with less than a one hour delay at the end.
Breeze‘s operations are relatively straightforward. Each of its five active A220s is scheduled to operate out and back from the same base every day. These “aircraft days” allow, in theory, a relatively easy comparison of scheduled operations versus actual. Flight cancellations, diversions, and wet-lease substitutions (Global Crossing Airlines has operated a number of Breeze flights this month) show an operation that is far from smooth.
Days one and two of A220 operations were not terrible. Small delays on the inaugural are reasonable enough. By day three, however, things got messy.
The aircraft operating the Tampa-Louisville-San Francisco round trip had a failure on the first segment that prevented it from operating the next three. Breeze was able to bring in a replacement plane, but that threw the schedule off by more than seven hours. The final Louisville-Tampa flight operated the following day.
The following day Breeze enlisted Global Crossing to fly the planned schedule, knowing that its main A220 was out of position and unable to complete the schedule. A GlobalX A320 has shown up instead of a Breeze A220 on at least a dozen days overall. In several of these cases Breeze knew of the need far enough in advance to avoid delays on the GlobalX operated flights. Ultimately this means more of the GlobalX operations for Breeze are running closer to the schedule, though even that is not guaranteed.
Some days the A220 only runs half its planned schedule. Over the past week GlobalX and Breeze have shared operations for some of the transcon routes. Rather than Breeze operating a full round trip each day it has flown to or from Las Vegas, with GlobalX running the opposite direction. That has led to slightly better reliability on some of the trips, but even that is not guaranteed.
Breeze has five A220s operational in its fleet; a sixth was just delivered and is going through induction. The schedule typically calls for just wo or three frames per day. And, while operations tend to get more delayed throughout the day, Breeze is struggling with first flight dispatch reliability. More than half the aircraft days reviewed saw the first flight more than an hour late or canceled.
Maybe the company is finally turning a corner on the issues. Monday it managed to operate a transcon turn on time for the first time. But that’s just one good data point against many others. And it did not repeat that feat yet.
The operational challenges today are leading to the company scaling back is expansion plans. The carrier cites “unprecedented industry-wide crew shortages and supply chain issues” for that decision.
As a result, a number of new routes are now delayed, some by several months. Existing routes are being trimmed or cut completely.
On the plus side, the company is giving affected passengers a refund and a $100 travel credit via its BreezePoints loyalty program. Given this summer’s high fares, however, that might not be enough of a slave to soothe the sting of cancelled vacation plans and the cost to rebook now.
The full collection of data analyzed is available here.
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