By JOHN HOWELL
In August of 2022, Breeze Airways announced it had selected Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport as one of its bases of operations and that over a period of five years …
By JOHN HOWELL
In August of 2022, Breeze Airways announced it had selected Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport as one of its bases of operations and that over a period of five years the base would bring the Ocean State 250 full time jobs sustaining up to 20 non-stop routes.
Breeze isn’t waiting to take off.
According to data provided by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation on Nov. 7, Breeze, with 15 routes, has more destinations than any other airline at Green. Southwest is second with nine destinations. Delta and American are tied for third, with four destinations each. As of August 2023, Breeze is the fourth largest airline at Green, measured by the number of seats offered and passengers carried. Southwest ranks first on both counts. Breeze is fifth by the number of departures from PVD. American ranks first in that category.
At that August, 2022 press conference attended by Gov. Dan McKee and a lineup of state and city officials. Vice president of Breeze Michael P. Lazarus said a goal of the airline is to bring non-stop service to airports across the country, adding that there are 1,000 airports in the country lacking non-stop service and that Breeze’s fleet of Airbus A-220’s could serve.
So far, so good.
On the morning over Nov. 8, the airlines announced new service to Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR) starting Feb. 15, 2024. Fares on the new non-stop routes start from $49 one-way, if purchased by Nov. 14 for travel by Sept. 3, 2024. Last week Breeze launched new routes to Jacksonville (JAX) and Vero Beach (VRB) on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Since Nov. 2, non-
stop flights to Vero Beach are being offered three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. That will increase to five flights per week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays) on Nov. 15. Twice a week service to Jacksonville on Mondays and Fridays began Nov. 3.
Breeze Airways was founded by David Neeleman, who previously co-founded Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, and Azul Linhas Aéreas. It is a low cost carrier that initiated flights in May of 2021. It has made its presence felt at Green.
According to John Goodman, RIAC Assistant Vice President of Media and Public Relations, Breeze has four aircraft stationed overnight at Green. When fully up and running, the base of operations – a first of its kind for Green – is expected to have twice that number of planes stationed there.
Goodman further reported that the “Breeze Team” is made up of 197 members, which includes 50 pilots, 79 inflight crew, 62 passenger and ground handling agents, and 6 operations technicians. He said the airline presently operates 14 non-stop routes from Green.
As explained at the time of the announcement more than a year ago, a “base” is an airport from which an airline’s aircraft operate. It is a location where airlines conduct regular maintenance checks and repairs, which serves as a place where flight crews reside, and which increases the potential for additional flight options. It was projected at that time the airline would offer approximately 20 average weekly departures by the end of this year, reaching 44 weekly departures by 2027.
A base in different from a hub, such as Atlanta, from which an airline collects passengers from outlying destinations to be flown to another airport and a final destination.
Gov. McKee has emphasized the importance of making Rhode Island a destination. At the August 2022 announcement he said that the Breeze base “supports our tourism efforts by bringing in new tourists and visitors to our great state, which in turn supports our economy.” The annual impact of the Breeze flights and base is projected to grow the state’s economy by $76 million annually.
In addition to the flights announced last week, Breeze books flights from Green Airport serving Charleston, SC; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Fort Myers, FL; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Norfolk, VA; Orlando, FL; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Sarasota-Bradenton, FL; Savannah, GA; and Tampa, FL.
In the past fiscal year, Breeze transported 135,489 passengers to and from Green, an increase of 73% from FY22, showing continued growth as Breeze adds more routes, averaging over 31,000 passengers a month this past summer. Between half and two-thirds of all Breeze flights from PVD are operated by the new Airbus A-220-300 aircraft, the rest on Embraer 190/195’s. All Green-based aircraft are Airbus aircraft, but the airport also receives flights operated by Breeze planes from other bases. Breeze uses common-use counters for check-ins, reservations, and ticket sales.