Want to bet on where Breeze Airways will fly out west? You might soon be in luck.
As the carrier brings its new A220-300 fleet online later this spring the planes it will start with the existing route map before quickly stretching out to the west coast. During the inaugural flight from Charleston to West Palm Beach on Saturday morning, CEO David Neeleman tipped that gambling could soon be in the company’s future.
Neeleman noted that the carrier now serves 13 markets from Charleston, with plans to grow to as many as 20 by the end of the year. Included in that 20, “maybe somewhere out west, you know, maybe somewhere with gambling.”
It is hard to not see that as teasing a Charleston-Las Vegas route.
This should not come as much of a surprise, of course. But hearing it stated in this manner is one of the few solid hints the company has slipped out in terms of where the map might extend.
Stimulate or Steal?
During an earlier conversation Breeze CFO Trent Porter suggested the carrier is more keen on helping develop new markets rather than encroaching on existing operations. “When we look at the competition, we’re more interested in stimulating demand rather than stealing demand. And with what we’ve been able to launch so far we’ve been seeing a lot of that stimulation.” The current route map bears out that approach. And there is no reason to believe the next tranche of route adds will be any different.
Regarding the “gambling out west” options from Charleston, Las Vegas today currently sees roughly 80 daily passengers per DoT T-100 data reviewed via Cirium. On paper it looks like a very, very compelling route to consider. The premium-heavy configuration is also well suited to a premium leisure destination like Las Vegas, with a relatively larger number of passengers likely to splurge on a bit more comfort for the trip.
Charleston to Reno currently sees fewer than five daily passengers. That might be a bitt too much to stimulate, though Aha! is doing its best to stimulate Reno traffic in nearer destinations.
An interesting comparison for Breeze’s Charleston plan could be the Hartford/Bradly to Las Vegas market. It saw about 120 passengers per day prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. JetBlue as since launched nonstop service on the route and the route jumped to around 200 daily passengers. Norfolk – another Breeze base – also hovers just over 100 daily passengers to Las Vegas and could be similarly stimulated with the right aircraft and fare mix.
The other Breeze bases at Tampa and New Orleans already offer non-stop service to Las Vegas on multiple competitors, making it less likely they would see Breeze service.
No guarantees, and both Neeleman and Porter declined to offer any additional details. But at least there’s a hint.
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