Breeze Airways Looking Closely At Long-Haul Airbus A220 Flights
Breeze Airways and Airbus unveiled the carrier’s brand new Airbus A220-300 on Tuesday. The almost immediate speculation was where Breeze would fly the jets. While they will initially fly on short-haul hops for familiarization purposes, the plan is to put them on longer routes, including domestic transcontinental flights. However, speaking about the aircraft’s abilities, Founder and CEO of Breeze Airways, David Neeleman, put a lot of attention on the possibility of using these aircraft to try a new market segment for the Airbus A220: long-haul flying.
Breeze Airways has some big plans for its Airbus A220s. Photo: Airbus
Breeze Airways is looking at long-haul flying
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at Airbus, Mr. Neeleman stated the following on the aircraft’s performance:
“The range of the aircraft is incredible. We’re looking to even take that one step further, Jeff mentioned 3,400, we’d like to get closer to 4,000, and Rob’s working on that. That’s going to really be a game changer, even more than what we have today.”
Mr. Neeleman is referring to Jeff Knittel, the Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas, and Rob Dewar. He is often referred to as the father of the Bombardier CSeries, which is now the Airbus A220. Both Mr. Dewar and Mr. Knittel have expressed a lot of confidence in the aircraft type and are looking at stretching the plane’s abilities.
The current range of the Airbus A220-300 is advertised at 3,400 nautical miles. Already, that extensive range can put plenty of long-haul routes within reach. For reference, New York to Frankfurt would be just under the top-end of range Breeze can get out of the A220-300.
Where can Breeze go with the A220?
Assuming Airbus can offer Breeze the 4,000 nautical mile range Mr. Neeleman is looking for, this puts plenty of route options within range. One of the key destinations he mentioned was South America.
For example, below is a map of route opportunities from Tampa (TPA) – one of Breeze’s bases:
Plenty of destinations are within reach from Tampa if the A220-300 can get 4,000 nautical miles of range. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper
Here are just a few of the cities Breeze could service from Tampa:
Santiago, ChileSão Paulo, BrazilRio de Janeiro, BrazilLisbon, PortugalLondon, United KingdomParis, FranceMadrid, Spain
At the current published A220 range, Breeze would be unable to get to Western Europe from Tampa. It would also put Santiago, São Paulo, and Rio out of reach for the aircraft.
Out of Hartford, Connecticut, Breeze can turn to a variety of destinations across the pond:
From Hartford, Breeze can fly deeper into Europe. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper
This includes cities like:
Paris, FranceLondon, UKLisbon, PortugalZurich, SwitzerlandFrankfurt, GermanyRome, ItalyVienna, AustriaBudapest, HungaryWarsaw, Poland
Breeze would be unable to reach Rome, Budapest, Vienna, or Warsaw from Hartford if the A220’s range remained limited to 3,400 nautical miles.
There are other factors to consider when it comes to opportunities. One includes the weather. Headwinds coming back to the US from Europe can limit performance, and Breeze may want to create a buffer from the top end of the aircraft’s range to avoid needing to make fuel diversions.
The second is the configuration of the aircraft. Generally speaking, the lighter the load, the more range Breeze could get, given that it would be flying a comparatively lighter-weight cabin with fewer people and likely fewer bags.
The right interior configuration
The interior configuration is important more than just from a weight and payload standpoint. Breeze has to make sure it has the right seating arrangement and products available for its customers. Mr. Neeleman has been explicit in the past and was clear now, lie-flats are a serious possibility for Breeze’s future Airbus A220 deliveries.
The current Breeze A220-300 features room for 126 passengers. This includes a whopping 36 premium seats with a domestic first class, recliner-style hard product, ten extra-legroom economy seats, and 80 standard economy seats. Power is available at every seat, and WiFi is coming. Breeze does not offer seatback streaming entertainment.
Breeze’s premium cabin on the A220-300s right now are recliner-style products. For long-hauls, the airline is looking at putting flatbeds onboard. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying
On an international flight, it very much depends on the kind of routes and customers Breeze is looking to serve. It is currently focused on visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and leisure travelers.
Mr. Neeleman discussed the potential of a 21-seat cabin with lie-flat seats. This is 15 fewer seats than the current premium cabin but would likely take up a similar amount of real estate as the current premium cabin.
The Airbus A220 in the right configuration with its current fuel efficiency and upgraded range could also unlock some niche leisure routes that Breeze may have an advantage in serving with these aircraft.
Economy class on Breeze’s Airbus A220s a 2-3 configuration, meaning fewer middle seats than other narrowbodies flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying
When will Breeze go international?
International routes are certainly on the agenda. As to the question of when long-haul routes could launch, Breeze did not officially detail when it is looking at launching long-haul routes. But it likely will be some time before the first Breeze A220 takes a long-haul flight with customers.
Breeze has to wait for Airbus to work out the range improvements. The airline has indicated that it is something they are pushing Airbus to do. Mr. Neeleman highlighted the work Airbus is already doing on the A220 ACJ that extends range, such as adding the additional center tank (ACT) for greater fuel capacity to reach a range of around 5,700 nautical miles. Now, the goal is to convince Airbus to get it for the A220-300 so that Breeze can run those long-haul flights commercially.
Breeze is eager to take on more A220s. Photo: Jay Singh | Simple Flying
Breeze plans to take six Airbus A220s by the second quarter of 2022 – when the airline wants to inaugurate services with the type. By the end of 2022, the airline expects to have 15 A220s in service.
Airbus will likely need to install some of that extra fuel capacity on the Airbus A220, slightly delaying when Breeze would even be able to take a plane to have that amount of range. In short, much of the timing on when Breeze goes long-haul depends on Airbus and if the company does offer the extended range on the type.