Breeze Airways, the brainchild of JetBlue founder David Neeleman, took off in 2021 with grand aspirations. They aimed to disrupt the airline industry with their point-to-point, leisure-focused routes. Yet, it’s safe to say they’ve had a rocky start.
Earlier this year, One Mile at a Time sounded the alarm bells, hinting that Breeze might be in deep financial trouble. Their Q1 2023 financial report painted a grim picture, with revenue at $67,378,610 and expenses soaring to $115,400,500, resulting in a staggering loss of $48,021,890 and an operating margin of -71%. A year ago, in Q1 2022, the airline wasn’t faring any better, with a loss of $21,026,850 and an operating margin of -122%. Ouch.
Now, I’m no CPA, but even I can see that these numbers are concerning. Sure, it takes time for an airline to find its wings, but these margins are, to put it mildly, horrendous. It’s likely that Breeze has already burned through a considerable chunk of their startup capital, and it’ll be interesting to see if Neeleman’s airline can continue to stay afloat amid strong economic headwinds.
The latest news in the Breeze saga is the discontinuation of their service to my home airport, Tulsa International Airport (TUL). I was actually at dinner when the announcement broke, and my phone started blowing up with texts from friends and colleagues about an article from The Bulkhead Seat breaking the news.
At the time of the announcement, Breeze had only one route out of TUL, which they’d started less than a month ago. This route was operating twice-weekly service to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), with a “BreezeThru” to Orlando International Airport (MCO). It seems like they barely gave the service a chance to spread its wings before pulling the plug.
Now, to be honest, I can’t say that I’m too surprised. I only personally know one person who has ever flown Breeze into or out of TUL, and that was on a TUL-BNA route that doesn’t even exist anymore. If there’s not enough demand to sustain a route, then it’s understandable that Breeze would cut it loose.
TUL isn’t the only city that’s seen Breeze pull the plug recently. They’ve also bid adieu to BNA, OKC, and SAT. This airline is developing a reputation for adding and removing routes at a staggering pace. So, while it might seem like a goodbye now, it could very well be a “see you later.” TUL has already played this game with Breeze several times, and who’s to say we won’t see them back in a few months? It’s hard to rely on an airline that seems to throw darts at the wall to see what sticks, rather than taking a more measured and carefully-researched approach to route planning.
Breeze Airways certainly has a lot to prove, both to its investors and to travelers like us. The airline industry is notorious for its ups and downs, and Breeze appears to be experiencing both in quick succession. The future for this leisure-focused carrier remains uncertain, but in the aviation world, anything can happen. Time will tell if Breeze can soar to new heights or if they’ll find themselves grounded for good.