International routes are coming to Breeze Airways, potentially this year. The new entrant, whose first commercial flight took off nearly two months ago, has put out a request for proposals to airports for service to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Western Europe. We delve into what may happen.
Breeze’s international routes are expected to be served by its incoming A220-300s, of which it has 80 on order (60 are on firm order). The first of its firm order is due in October, with one delivery every five months for the next five years.
They’ll be complete with a premium cabin using Safran Seats’ Z600 chaise-style business class seat. The hard product is set to include live inflight connectivity and stream-to-your-own-device inflight entertainment, both more important for longer sectors.
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First international routes this year?
Breeze has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to international airports via the Route Exchange platform. A RFP is a way for an airline to received standardized information from a large number of airports to help in the evaluation process.
Route Exchange complements Routes’ various World Route Development Forums, which are in-person events. These including ‘speed dating’ between airlines and airports that agree to it. The author attended many of these events in a previous role.
The following is what is said on Routes’ website. Note that, in reality, it is highly likely that the vast majority of international routes will be unserved, in keeping with Breeze’s current domestic routes. And to reduce risk, let alone during a pandemic, we think shorter tourist and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) international routes to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America are more likely.
“Airports with cost structures and facilities suitable for Airbus A220-300 operations have been invited to participate by first completing a prequalifying questionnaire with a submission deadline of Friday 23 July. Successful applicants will then be asked to submit a formal response for evaluation which could lead to the launch of new routes later this year.” [Emphasis by this author.]
Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America
To help narrow down possible opportunities, we are sticking to Breeze’s current airport network of 16 US airports (otherwise, it becomes unwieldy in a short article). Not all are set up for international service, but they could be. However, many are, such as Tampa, Charleston, Columbus, Hartford, Providence, San Antonio, and New Orleans. And we have stuck to no more than 2,000 miles.
~2.9 million passengers
From these 16 US airports, approximately 3.9 million round-trip passengers flew to/from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America in 2019. That’s based on booking data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyzer.
Of these ~3.9 million, an estimated 2.9 million – three quarters – flew indirectly via a hub. This hub-busting is the main opportunity for Breeze. Crucial in new route development is demand stimulation. Demand would meaningfully grow from Breeze’s non-stop service, lower fares, and a pretty good product.
The following 11 destinations had over half of the 2.9 million, with many obvious places:
- Cancun: approximately 439,000 round-trip indirect passengers in 2019
- Montego Bay: 225,000
- Nassau: 165,000
- San Juan: 145,000
- Punta Cana: 131,000
- San Jose (Costa Rica): 127,000
- Los Cabos: 121,000
- Puerto Vallarta: 79,000
- Guatemala City: 63,000
- San Pedro Sula: 49,000
- Santo Domingo: 48,000
Why do airlines and airports work together?
While airlines will always do profitability and similar analysis in-house, many use airports to help decide what routes may make sense. Breeze is no different.
After all, while airlines have access to historical passenger data and other data tools, they rarely have the same local information that an airport will. This especially relates to the local catchment area of an airport, leakage data from that catchment, and so on. In this local expertise sense, airports are often an important – but just one – source of information.
Based on the author’s time at London Luton Airport, some airlines (especially well-established ultra-low-cost carriers) are happy with just an Excel file of leakage data showing how underserved a market is. And some required nothing at all. In comparison, other airlines preferred a much more comprehensive analysis to understand a market and see what may make sense.
Where would you like to see Breeze fly internationally? Let us know in the comments.