Amid pilot shortages and other major challenges for airlines, a newbie, Breeze Airways, flew an inaugural flight out of Orlando International Airport on Friday in a nonstop route to Charleston, S.C., a flight that continues to Hartford, Conn.
“Though this inaugural is not a huge international wide-body flight to a new MCO destination, Breeze is unique,” said Vicki Jaramillo, senior director of air development at the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, referring to the Orlando airport code.
“This is the fifth airline launched by David Neeleman. Three of the other airlines David launched and flying to MCO are JetBlue, Azul from Brazil and WestJet from Canada,” Jaramillo said.
Breeze is headquartered in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. Its very first flight was in May last year from Tampa’s airport to Charleston and it will fly to 30 cities this summer, including six in Florida. Orlando is now Breeze’s 20th nonstop destination from Charleston.
Breeze vice president Danny Cox said the airline will provide daily service from Orlando during peak times of the year and drop back to four or five times weekly during off-peak periods.
The airline will not compete directly with other ultra low cost carriers at Orlando’s airport, Cox said, and will focus on destinations that would amount to a lengthy drive or to underserved destinations.
The airline has concentrated its cities in the East and Southeast but has flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“The Breeze story has very much been to grow as fast can with what we can do in this challenging staffing environment,” Cox said. “We are playing the long game here. We are doubling our fleet this year and then adding an aircraft a month.”