TAMPA, Fla. — A brand new airline is joining the industry and it's taking flight right here in Tampa.
On Thursday, the airline took to the skies for the very first time with a maiden voyage between Tampa and International and Charleston, South Carolina. There was champagne christening and a shower from fire hoses for Tampa’s newest airline.
Additional flights will be offered to Hartford, Connecticut with more destinations to be added each week through July 2021.
The airline’s CEO, David Neeleman, who founded Jet Blue says Breeze is an airline with low flexible fares to underserved, growing markets.
“What we say is will get you there twice as fast, at least, for half as much money,” said Neeleman.
The airline’s first originating at TPA was also a nod to Tampa International and the Tampa Bay region.
“We are booming right now,” said Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “Both in business and leisure. And you guys are going to do great.”
Breeze-- with fares starting at just $39 each way --joins other discount carriers like Spirit and Frontier. That’s good news for Tampa travelers itching to get back out there after a year of COVID quarantines.
“It makes it easier for us to fly,” said passenger Jon Lyon. “It makes it more appealing for us to fly again.”
“All right, where are we going to find the cheapest? Where can we go this weekend just to get out? We’ve been cooped up for a year,” added passenger Katie Horvet. “Get us the heck out of the house.”
10 Tampa Bay aviation expert, Mark Weinkrants says Breeze is good for competition in our region.
“It’s giving options to people to go places inexpensively and directly. It’s a great innovative idea,” said Weinkrantz, a retired commercial pilot himself.
But the airline, he warns, could face growing pains.
With just over a dozen aircraft to start, any mechanical issues could cause delays or cancellations, according to Weinkrantz. Turnover could also be a challenge as major airlines, already short on pilots, could try to lure away Breeze’s aviators who, he adds, start out making about half as much money.
“Welcome to Tampa. Go to great things,” said Weinkrantz, “But for the traveler, these are things that may later become consequential as they develop.”
The airline joins TPA at a time when the airport is experiencing rapid growth in recovering from the pandemic, as travelers are eager to get back on flights, according to the TPA website.
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