PLATTSBURGH, NY — This fall Breeze Airways will introduce flights to Orlando, FL out of Plattsburgh, NY – just across the border from Montreal.
Breeze, which bills itself as the U.S.’s ‘only NLCC, or Nice Low Cost Carrier’, launched in May 2021 with a network of U.S. routes.
LCCs typically don’t pay travel agent commission, as part of their low-cost model.
Breeze’s founder and CEO, David Neeleman, is well-known in the airline industry, as one of the co-founders of WestJet and founder and former CEO of JetBlue, among other carriers. Following the playbook of many other LCCs and ULCCs, including some that Neeleman himself founded, Breeze uses secondary airports to bypass big hubs.
The new PBG-MCO flights, scheduled to start Nov. 28, 2023, put Breeze’s low airfares within reach of Montrealers willing to drive the 100-kilometres south to Plattsburgh. Every year U.S. airports along the border like PBG attract droves of Canadian travellers seeking low fares with lower taxes.
Breeze’s introductory fares on the new route will start at US$59 (about Cdn$80) one-way. Introductory fares are available for purchase at flybreeze.com or on the Breeze app through Sept. 18, 2023 for travel by April 30, 2024. Terms and conditions apply. The introductory fare applies only to new reservations for flights. Travel must also be flown on qualifying travel dates for the discount.
Breeze’s Orlando flights out of PBG will operate three times weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, on Breeze’s new A220-300 aircraft.
Three seating options include Breeze Ascent, a recliner-style seat in a 2×2 configuration with 39” of seat pitch, 20.5” of seat width and special amenities such as complimentary snacks and drinks, including alcohol. Breeze passengers can select from bundled and a la carte options known as Nice, Nicer and Nicest. Breeze Ascent is included in the Nicest bundle, or sold a la carte with Nice or Nicer.
Also notable with Breeze: the airline doesn’t charge change or cancellation fees up to 15 minutes prior to departure, and it offers other benefits such as free family seating and a la carte pricing.
“Plattsburgh becomes our fourth airport in New York State, but the first with a large international appeal,” said Neeleman. “Montreal is just over the border and we expect to attract many Quebeckers – keen to drive to Plattsburgh for cheaper fares – along with the residents of the Adirondack Coast. We look forward to welcoming both communities and introducing all to the Breeze experience.”
Neeleman added: “Orlando is just the start for us in Plattsburgh. We expect to add several more routes in the near future.”
“IT’S A LONG TIME SINCE I’VE BEEN AT WESTJET”
The news about the new route included a virtual press conference where Neeleman talked about airline industry competition and the Canadian market.
Well-versed in the habits of Canadian travellers – thanks in no small part to his days as a WestJet co-founder – Neeleman said there will always be demand on a Florida route from a smaller gateway like PBG, that’s just across the border and welcoming to Canadians. “We’re looking to attract a lot of Quebeckers, to come across the border and fly out of Plattsburgh,” he said.
Asked if Breeze would ever consider flights into Montreal proper, or any other Canadian city, Neeleman said Breeze is hoping to receive its designation from the FAA for international flights by the end of this year. That doesn’t necessarily mean Canadian routes. “It’s a cost issue,” he said, adding, “it’s certainly something we’d consider in the future.”
“It’s a long time since I’ve been at WestJet,” he joked.
While Canada is a ways back in his rearview mirror, career-wise, Neeleman introduced his presentation with praise for Montreal: “It’s such a beautiful city. I can’t wait to get to the [Canadian] Grand Prix [in Montreal] some day, that’s on my bucket list.”
He confirmed that the PBG-MCO route will be year-round.
There’s no shortage of competition in the Canadian airline industry these days, with new players seemingly popping up every few months. “It’s always good to have competition,” said Neeleman. “Competition brings lower fares. And flights along the border always attract Canadians.”
Pre-pandemic, ultra low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines offered PBG-MCO flights, but dropped the route amid the pandemic, and so far hasn’t brought it back. “Our model’s different from Spirit’s,” said Neeleman, answering a question about why Breeze is launching a route that a competitor decided wasn’t worth bringing back. “We bundle more, and our planes are smaller, so we don’t have as many seats to fill.”
Currently Breeze has 16 A220s, with another four coming by the end of this year, and an additional 12 coming in 2024, for a total of 32 once next year’s delivery is complete.