Are lower-cost airlines to smaller cities the future of travel? Here’s what you should know

Airline industries took a massive hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the world comes out of it and returns to travel, the airline industry may look a bit different as it plots its recovery.

Cue the launch of airline Breeze Airways by the founder of JetBlue, David Neeleman. It is expected to bring in more than 200 direct jobs and 877 indirect jobs to the Big Easyfor a grand total of 1,138 new jobs, along with an investment of $6.6 million.

On balance, these new gigs will reportedly support $65,000 salaries to Lousiana workers including benefits.

Representatives of Breeze Airways say that their sleek Embraer E190 aircraft will provide up to nine daily departures on peak days, and have the capacity to seat up to 108 passengers.

What this new airline offers

Breeze Airways made its debut flight earlier this week to Tampa, Florida from Louisiana. The airline subsequently released an initial slate of 39 routes across 16 cities between May 27 and July 29, with $39 fares.

Direct flights will connect to New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Akron/Canton and Columbus, Ohio; and Huntsville, Alabama.

“Together, we created Breeze as a new airline merging technology with kindness,” Neeleman, who also founded Morris Air, WestJet, and Azul airlines, explained of the new venture. “Breeze provides nonstop service between underserved routes across the U.S. at affordable fares.”

Breeze Airway promises a tech-focused approach that will require passengers to use a mobile application or computer to correspond with the airline instead of tedious call centers.

New airline jobs may face challenges ahead

Though Breeze is riding on its promises of low fares and convenient routes, airline experts including Henry Harteveldt, the cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, foresee issues.

Bigger airlines can match the routes Breeze is offering with even lower fares and though customers may pay a lower ticket price they have to be ready to pay for bag check, seat assignment, boarding pass printing, and cancellation fees. All those costs add up. Plus, despite being a tech-forward airline, the Embraer E190 does not offer WiFi on the flight. Breeze Airway’s Airbus A220-300 aircraft, which is set to launch later this October, will support wifi use with streaming services to boot.

Saying nothing of all the added jobs for the Lousiana area, a new airline is an economic win, however clunky Breeze’s launch ends up being.

The future of flying

Lower-cost airlines may be the future as the travel industry tries to build back up after a horrific year. Avelo Airlines launched last month on used Boeing 737s. The focus is now on smaller cities.

With a year on pause, many mid-size metropolises worked on new tourism campaigns to bring in more money and non-stop flights to those locations are essential.

These direct routes to underserved cities are a source of real opportunity as travel rears back up, the job market and economy get stronger and vaccine distribution continues to be carried out across the country.