Three Years Later, Breeze Continues to Rise

While growing in Pittsburgh, start-up forecasts first profitable year

By Evan Dougherty

Published May 6, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


On Friday morning, passengers on Breeze Airways Flight 546 enjoyed the carrier’s first nonstop flight from Pittsburgh to San Diego.

The new route is the latest add by Breeze at Pittsburgh International Airport; San Diego is Breeze’s second West Coast destination (joining Los Angeles) and 12th city overall flown from Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh-San Diego also began shortly after Breeze, nearing its fourth year of operations, announced it had recorded its first monthly profit in March, marking a breakthrough milestone for the rapidly growing low-cost start-up.

Breeze also revealed that in the first quarter of 2024, its unit revenue, a key financial metric for airlines, increased 30 percent year-over-year. In the month of March alone, Breeze generated more revenue from scheduled service than the entirety of the first quarter of 2023, according to the airline.

Breeze also expects 2024 to be its first profitable year overall, founder and CEO David Neeleman said earlier this year.

“This milestone is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and pure grit of the more than 1,800 team members who, despite a multitude of challenges and setbacks, persevered to build something truly impactful,” Neeleman said. “Starting an airline is not for the faint of heart but we have remained true to our purpose – to give millions of travelers in underserved markets access to efficient and affordable air travel.”

Passengers onboard Breeze flight 546 celebrate the airline’s inaugural nonstop flight between Pittsburgh and San Diego prior to departure on May 3, 2024. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Creating a new airline

Founded in 2019 by longtime airline entrepreneur Neeleman, Breeze commenced scheduled flight operations in May 2021.

The Salt Lake City-based carrier is the latest of Neeleman’s many airline ventures, which include Morris Air (later acquired by Southwest Airlines in 1993), WestJet, JetBlue and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

Breeze’s strategy is to connect underserved markets with low-cost service while also providing an elevated onboard service to its customers. Rather than flowing customers through hubs, Breeze follows a “point-to-point” model of providing nonstop service between cities at a competitive price, similar to other low-cost airlines.

When it commenced operations in 2021, Breeze’s network consisted of 16 total cities. As of April 2024, Breeze has grown to serve 56 cities across 29 states with more than 170 nonstop seasonal and year-round routes. It has expanded its reach nationwide, including the addition of transcontinental routes, and is even eyeing a future serving international destinations.

Pittsburgh was among those first 16 Breeze markets. The carrier started service at PIT in July 2021, flying to four markets: Charleston, South Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Providence, Rhode Island.

In a span of four years, Breeze has quickly added cities that previously were unserved while also providing an additional choice in markets popular with Pittsburghers.

Along with Charleston, Hartford, Norfolk and Providence, Breeze today serves major Florida markets including Fort Myers, Jacksonville and Tampa; West Coast cities including Los Angeles and San Diego; previously unserved leisure destinations in New Orleans and Portland, Maine; and is one of three carriers serving Raleigh-Durham.

A Breeze A220-300 accelerates down the runway at PIT for a morning departure to Fort Myers on Jan. 5, 2024. (Photo by Evan Dougherty)

Breeze’s fleet has also evolved quickly in three short years. Earlier this year, Breeze announced it would transition all scheduled service to its growing fleet of brand-new Airbus A220-300 aircraft by fall 2024, replacing the fleet of smaller Embraer E190 and E195 aircraft it initially began operations with.

In February, Breeze upped its A220 commitments with Airbus to 90 total aircraft and expects to eventually be one of the top three carriers of the type worldwide.

Breeze’s A220s—which seat 137 passengers—provide additional capacity throughout its network, burn less fuel, fly quieter and have longer range, opening up more route possibilities for the airline.

With its A220s, Breeze has also introduced its “Breeze Ascent” first-class style seating, in-seat charging ports for personal devices and in-flight WiFi for in-flight connectivity access.

Amid its enhancements, Breeze has garnered the highest Net Promoter Score in the airline industry and scored a top five “Best U.S. Airline” ranking in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for two consecutive years, according to the airline.

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