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…

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:

Breeze Airways Looking Closely At Long-Haul Airbus A220 Flights
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, Chile
  • São Paulo, Brazil
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Madrid, 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:

Breeze Airways Looking Closely At Long-Haul Airbus A220 Flights
From Hartford, Breeze can fly deeper into Europe. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

This includes cities like:

  • Paris, France
  • London, UK
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Rome, Italy
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Warsaw, 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 Airways Looking Closely At Long-Haul Airbus A220 Flights
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.

Breeze Airways Looking Closely At Long-Haul Airbus A220 Flights
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 Airways Looking Closely At Long-Haul Airbus A220 Flights
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.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Resurgent Virgin Australia Restores International Partnerships

After more than a year and a half, Virgin Australia is relaunching its international partner network and, once…

Resurgent Virgin Australia Restores International Partnerships

After more than a year and a half, Virgin Australia is relaunching its international partner network and, once again, allowing frequent flyers to earn and spend points on flights outside Australia.

Virgin Australia has restored most of its international partner airline alliances. Photo: Getty Images

Virgin Australia restores its web of pre-COVID international airline alliances

Virgin Australia confirmed the highly anticipated news on Wednesday. The airline’s ten million plus Velocity members can again earn and burn points on Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad, and Hawaiian Airlines. Missing from the lineup are former alliance partners HNA and the now-defunct Alitalia.

Singapore Airlines is also locked in. But unlike the partnerships with the other six airlines, which officially resume on November 1, a few kinks in the deal with Singapore Airlines need to get ironed out before a resumption date gets announced.

The restoration of these partnerships is a big deal for Virgin Australia and restores its web of pre-COVID international alliances. It marks a big comeback for an airline that was on the verge of extinction last year.

Virgin-australia-international-partner-airlines-Getty
The partner airlines, most of who fly to Australia, will pump passengers onto Virgin Australia’s domestic network. Photo: Getty Images

A return to form for Virgin’s Velocity program

The partnerships are also a big deal for Velocity members. The frequent flyer program lost much of its luster when redemptions on international partner airlines stopped last year. This writer earns Velocity points in the air and on the ground in Australia and traditionally uses them to pay for medium and long-haul flights on Singapore Airlines. It’s good to get the ability to do so back and makes Velocity more competitive with the rival Qantas frequent flyer program.

Equally, a Delta SkyMiles member can now use their points to fly around Australia. They can fly into Sydney on Delta and seamlessly transfer onto a Virgin Australia flight to, say, Adelaide, earning or burning points all the way through.

“On behalf of the whole team, I want to thank each and every one of our 10 million members for their patience as we worked around the clock to negotiate some great deals for our members with some of the world’s leading airlines,” says freshly installed Velocity CEO Nick Rohrlach.

“Virgin Australia will always have a strong core of its own international flights and then through Velocity will partner with leading airlines to offer an enviable network to travel-hungry Australians.”

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Virgin Australia’s domestic route map. Source: Virgin Australia

Still a few kinks to iron out

Virgin Australia’s network of partner airlines makes it possible to fly around the world on Velocity points. But there are some caveats and quirks. For example, Velocity points cannot currently be used to redeem Air Canada flights between Australia and Vancouver – which seems counterintuitive.

The fine print also says not every flight offered by Virgin Australia or partner airlines will have seats available for points redemption. But you can certainly earn Velocity points with the partner airlines if you pay cash and book via Virgin Australia.

Equally, members of partner airlines’ frequent flyer programs can earn points in their program when flying on Virgin Australia flights from November 1.

While there’s no fixed date on Singapore Airlines coming back into the fold, it will happen, with Virgin Australia saying on their website: “We are working closely with Singapore Airlines to plan for the reintroduction of Reward Seats and the ability for members to transfer Points between the Velocity and KrisFlyer programs.”

The ability to flick points between Velocity and Krisflyer is a convenient perk. Krisflyer opens up redemptions across the Star Alliance network. One of the stumbling blocks needing quick resolution is a correct valuation of the Velocity/Krisflyer exchange rate.

Virgin-australia-international-partner-airlines
Wednesday’s announcement marked the public debut of new Velocity CEO Nick Rohrlach. Photo: Virgin Australia

Public debut of new Velocity CEO

Wednesday’s announcement from Virgin Australia also marked the public debut of new Veolicty CEO Nick Rohrlach. Mr Rohrlach was the subject of an acrimonious legal battle between Qantas and Virgin Australia earlier this year.

Nick Rohrlach has probably burnt his bridges with Qantas, but he’s off to a stellar start at Virgin Australia restoring these international partnerships.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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