How is it that a trip from New York to Paris can be cheaper than a trip from Norfolk to New York? For far too long, the answer has been supply, demand and a severe lack of competition.
Legacy airlines in the USA focused their businesses around lucrative international hubs, and forgot about travel within the United States, between the cities not named Atlanta, New York, LA, Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Seattle or Washington.
A well known name in the airline business, who shook things up in 1998 with the founding of JetBlue, is back to do it again. He’s not alone, either. David Neeleman’s ‘Breeze Airways’ is the latest in a series of US domestic upstarts, which also includes Avelo, after nearly a decade lacking in new competition.
The first order of business for the airline is applying price pressure to a variety of overlooked and under appreciated US routes, and that’s great news for travelers from cities other than the handful of big names.
Breeze Airways Launch
Breeze is somewhat of a low cost airline, but with a high tech, customer centric focus. In other words, it shouldn’t feel shabby. Technology is at the heart of booking, extras and finding ways to reduce waste. And yes, costs for the airline too.
But what’s perhaps most unique, is the cities Breeze Airways is focusing on. There’s no New York, or LA. Instead, Akron, Bentonville, Norfolk, Hartford and Tulsa are a few of the marquee names on the initial route map.
Creating either entirely new “direct” routes between cities, or providing additional service to cities which have always been neglected by airlines is a big deal. If history is any indicator, whenever a new airline comes in, prices go down.
For people who never had a direct flight connecting places like Louisville, Kentucky with Charleston and New Orleans, seeing loved ones or escaping for a weekend is now more accessible than ever.
If Breeze starts “cleaning up” on a route, with full flights, it won’t be long before other airlines follow, creating even more impressive “lows” in airfare.
Other Airlines Too!
Ever heard of Avelo?
Breeze is (deservedly) stealing much of the thunder, but for the first time in a long time, credible contenders are popping up to fill voids left by the major carriers during the times of unprecedented travel booms from hub cities. Silver Airways has also focused on this approach in recent years, with moderate success.
As trends shift and people prioritize direct flights over being pawns in a “hub” game, with forced connections, nimble upstarts stand a better chance than before. It should force major airlines to lower prices, to account for the added inconvenience of going through hub cities, rather than direct.
Avelo, for example, launched its first flight from Burbank (Hollywood), California to Santa Rosa, in wine country.
Other direct flights to Hollywood will feature from Redmond, Bozeman and more. It’s kinda the same approach as Breeze, but on the West Coast. Down the road, they could merge into a powerful national contender.
The Right Time To Launch?
Business travel is never expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels, but leisure travel is. These routes, which focus on destinations people want to visit for leisure are only expected to gain in popularity.
Another factor creating a tailwind for these new upstarts comes with a myriad of factors including planes with greater fuel efficiency, and the arguable greed of major airlines coming back to bite them, with decreasing interest in airline loyalty.
In boom times, major airlines cut things like upgrades and flying perks, which have made people less inclined to stay brand loyal, if better options exist. It’s not hard to see how presenting the first ever direct option from Hollywood to Napa and Sonoma makes sense, so it could be quite an exciting few years in US aviation.
In an otherwise very good and informative article, I see the words “direct flight(s)” being used, and would caution the better phrasing would be “non-stop flights.” There is a significant difference between the two as a direct flight is technically any flight going from point A to Z provided it keeps the same flight number when it stops at B, C, on thru Y, all between A to Z. The worst offender is Southwest, whose “direct flights” can often start early in the morning in Houston and end late in the day in California or Michigan having had 4 to 6 stops, but having kept the same flight number.
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