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CHRISTOPHER MUTHER

JetBlue founder introduces a new, ‘nice’ airline

The airline, called Breeze, focuses on smaller, underserved airports such as Bradley and T.F. Green, with a smile, of course.

David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue and several other airlines, poses in front of a plane from his latest project, Breeze Airways.
David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue and several other airlines, poses in front of a plane from his latest project, Breeze Airways.CeanOrrett

Providence’s T.F. Green gets a new carrier when Breeze Airways, the latest airline from JetBlue founder David Neeleman, makes its debut there next month.

The low-fare airline, which is already flying out of Hartford’s Bradley International, launched last month and is targeting smaller airports that Neeleman feels are currently underserved. The network will be made up of 39 nonstop routes between 16 cities in the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Eastern United States. Introductory rates for the airline range from $39 to $89 each way.

Breeze’s business model is similar to other low-cost carriers with a hefty portion of the price tag coming in the form of extra fees. Seat assignments cost $10, otherwise you’ll be assigned a seat when you arrive at the airport. Both checked and carry-on luggage is a $20 fee. It’s the same fee whether you check your bag or take it on the plane with you.

What’s different is that Breeze has an incredibly flexible cancellation policy. Flights can be cancelled up to 15 minutes before a scheduled departure without penalty. Customers then receive a credit for their next flight. Unlike some bargain carriers that pack their travelers tight (we’re looking at you, Spirit), Breeze is touting more legroom. Instead of using terms such as “economy” or “economy plus,” Breeze’s categories are called “nice,” “nicer,” and, when business class is introduced, “nicest.” The nice seat pitch is between 29 and 31 inches (depending on the plane), nicer is between is between 33 and 39 inches.

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Breeze will operate 13 single-class Embraer aircraft this summer, flying routes with an average flight length of under two hours. The 10 E190 jets will be configured to seat 108 passengers, while the three E195 aircraft will have 118 seats. All Embraer aircraft will be a two-by-two seat configuration, so there are no middle seats.

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Breeze also has ordered 60 new Airbus A220 aircraft that will be delivered one per month for five years, starting in October. The A220 routes will be announced this fall. All will be for flights that last longer than two hours. So far, no Massachusetts routes have been announced.

Another way Neeleman said he’ll make Breeze nice is through its staff. In an interview with Deseret News earlier this year, he said he plans to hire college students as flight attendants. He told the publication that he’s watched too many flight attendants over the years experience burnout, but continue to work in the industry. He said he envisions Breeze will institute a scholarship program to help the students pay their tuition, and once they graduate, they can move on to the career of their choice.


Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.