The US has waited a long time for a new airline to take off from its runways. Many are saying that it has been nearly 15 years, when the last mainline US carrier, Virgin America, launched.*
Regardless of how long it has been, the launch of any new airline is enough to get us excited. Especially when the new airline is coming from a place like the US, where the number of potential routes are seemingly endless and many are still underserved.
With the wait for a new airline in the US being a long one, it’s funny that when one does arrive on the scene, two more come in the same year! It’s said that good things come in threes. And it’s also said that good things happen to those who wait. So, we’re expecting both US airlines and passengers to be in for an especially good year with the US’ three new carriers in 2021.
Let's get to it — who are the US start-up airlines launching in 2021? When do they launch? and where are they flying?
*Although, the experts at Alternative Airlines count it as 11 years (shoutout to Eastern Airlines, 2010!)
Avelo Airlines was the first new airline to launch in 2021, taking to the skies in April.
Avelo has technically been flying since the late 1980s, previously flying as a charter airline under the names Casino Express Airlines and Xtra Airways.
But, with a new name, new livery and new ownership, Avelo burst onto the scene in a way that it hadn’t before, offering scheduled flights, ultra-low-cost fares and — being reported as the first new US carrier in 15 years — a whole lot of buzz
Virgin plane taking off. Avelo Airlines is said to be the first new US airline since Virgin America launched in 2007.
The airline flies underserved routes across the US.
Avelo originally launched flights from the West Coast at Hollywood Burbank (BUR), California, flying to 11 destinations across California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Utah, Colorado and Arizona, including Santa Rosa, Bozeman Yellowstone, Ogden–Salt Lake and Phoenix-Mesa.
Avelo has wasted absolutely no time in announcing its next move. Just one week after its seat belts were fastened for the first time, the airline announced an East Coast hub at New Haven (HVN), Connecticut. While no routes have been announced from New Haven yet, the airline is expected to fly to leisure destinations, originally in the surrounding northeast area and then expanding further south. Avelo is expected to arrive on the East Coast and start flights in Q3 2021.
Avelo was the first of the new US airlines to launch in 2021, with the first flight flying between Hollywood Burbank (BUR) and Santa Rosa (RSA) on 27th April 2021.
The airline uses Boeing 737-800s on West Coast routes and will use Boeing 737-700s on East Coast routes.
Avelo is keeping things simple. One cabin class (Economy Class) and one fare (basic). Avelo sells seat-only tickets, meaning that you’re given a seat on the flight and anything extra (baggage, food, etc.) must be added on to your ticket at extra cost.
There are no seat back screens and there is no in-flight entertainment on flights.
Andrew Levy is the CEO of Avelo. Levy is a former President of Allegiant Air and looks to be adopting a similar business model for Avelo.
For a long time, Breeze Airways was unusually quiet about its launch. Even when it had gained all the necessary approvals that it needed, it remained very tight-lipped on when or where it was planning to fly.
With JetBlue founder David Neeleman as the mastermind behind the airline, Breeze’s launch was expected to shake things up. And shake things up it has.
Breeze launched in May with 36 non-stop routes flying across 16 destinations in the US. Remarkably, 95% of Breeze’s routes aren’t served nonstop by another airline.
Breeze’s flights are point-to-point, meaning that rather than connecting one airport with several destinations, all of the destinations within its route network connect with two other destinations or more.
Like Avelo, Breeze flies underserved routes in the US.
The airline currently flies to 16 destinations within the northeast, southeast and midsouth of the country. Even though its flights are point-to-point, a lot of them depart from Tampa (TPA), Charleston (CHS), Norfolk (ORF) and New Orleans (MSY). Other destinations in its route network include Tulsa, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Richmond, Providence and more.
Expect to hear much more from Breeze over the next year. The airline has already put out an intention to fly more than 500 routes across the US and has even hinted at international flights to South America and Europe down the line too.
Breeze Airways’ first flight took place on 27th May 2021 and flew between Charleston and Tampa.
Breeze will use Embraer E190 & E195 jets for its first announced routes.
Later in the year, it’s set to take delivery of Airbus A220-300s.
On its Embraer fleet, the airline offers two fares — ‘Nice’ and ‘Nicer’. The Nice fare is a basic, Economy Class, seat-only ticket, with extras available to purchase at additional cost. The ‘Nicer’ fare is also an Economy Class ticket but with seats that have extra-legroom, as well as baggage allowances and complimentary food and drink included within the price. The airline plans to introduce a ‘Nicest’ fare with the delivery of its Airbus fleet. The ‘Nicest’ fare will be the equivalent of Business Class.
The airline doesn’t have seatback screens. But, it does have wireless in-flight entertainment that you can connect to with your laptop, mobile or tablet.
JetBlue plane on runway. Founder of Breeze Airways, Andrew Levy, is also the founder of JetBlue.
Not set to launch until October 2021, we know a lot less about Connect Airlines than we do about the other two US airlines that have launched this year. But, here’s what we know so far...
This US airline will not actually be based in the US. Instead, it will base itself at Toronto Toronto Billy Bishop (YTZ) and will connect Toronto with several US destinations.
The airline will target business travelers. It will fly routes that are popular among business travelers and will offer a premium service.
It’s set to face a lot of competition from Porter Airlines, a Canadian airline that is also based at Toronto Billy Bishop (YTZ), flies to the US and targets business travelers.
The airline will fly from Toronto to several US destinations in the Northeast and Midwest of the US that have business centres. No routes have been confirmed as of yet.
No official date has been set. The airline still needs federal approval and needs to obtain its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). However, if all goes to plan, the airline wants to launch in October 2021, depending on whether the US/Canada border has reopened.
Q400 turboprop planes.
Q400 plane. Connect Airlines plans to use the Q400 for its flights
What will be offered in-flight is still unknown. But, the airline has stated that it plans to offer a ‘premium service’ for ‘day-tripping business travelers’. So, presumably, the airline will offer an in-flight experience with all the trimmings.
The airline is being launched by the same people at Waltzing Matilda Aviation, which is a Boston-based charter airline.
Breeze and Avelo have essentially set out to do the same thing — sell flights on routes that are underserved at very low prices and to roll-out new routes very aggressively.
Both look to waste no time in launching multiple sets of routes that cover different regions in the US. So far, there’s been no crossover in Avelo and Breeze’s route networks. But, if and when there is, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s room for both airlines on these routes. And, if there isn’t, which one of these carriers will come out on top?
Connect Airlines is doing something entirely different. Not only is it targeting completely different routes with transborder flights from Canada to the US, it’s targeting business travelers instead of leisure travelers. As it stands, Connect Airlines routes are unlikely to crossover with Avelo’s and Breeze’s, but the airline almost certainly set to clash routes with the temporarily grounded Porter Airlines.
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