JetBlue founder will bring new airline, Breeze Aviation, to Minneapolis

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Breeze Aviation, a new airline launched by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, plans to acquire the operating certificate from defunct Compass Airlines, a key step in beginning operations based in the Twin Cities.

Bloomberg reports on the effort by Breeze, which together with Compass submitted an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to transfer Compass’ license. (You can see the filing itself here.)

Compass, which was headquartered at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, closed down this spring amid an industrywide decline in air travel related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The airline had previously flown regional flights for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) and Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines Group Inc., though it lost the Delta business last year. 

Breeze, meanwhile, aims to serve about 15 cities in the South, Midwest, East Coast and Texas, focusing on markets that have lost nonstop service as major carriers have cut back on routes. The company has ordered a half-dozen Airbus SE A220-300 jets — thought it’s delayed delivery by six months, to August 2021 — and is leasing another 15 Embraer SA E190 jets. 

Airline Geeks reports that Breeze plans to begin charter service this year based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, with scheduled service coming next summer. (While operations will be here, the company’s corporate headquarters is likely to be Salt Lake City, where Neeleman grew up.

Neeleman, who started JetBlue in 1998 and built it into one of the nation’s 10 biggest carriers, has been working on Breeze for the past few years, The New York Business Journal reported last December. Business Insider, meanwhile, has a breakdown of the company’s strategy, which will rely less on call centers and ticket counters; most of its customer-facing tasks will be handled through an app.


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