Dave Neeleman founded JetBlue after his non-compete from Southwest’s acquisition of Morris Air where he was CEO expired. During that non-compete period he was involved in the launch of Canada’s WestJet.
A citizen of Brazil as well as the U.S. (and also now of Cyprus), Neeleman launched Brazilian carrier Azul after being forced out at JetBlue. He’s also a partner in Star Alliance carrier TAP Air Portugal.
Last summer he registered the name for a new airline and announced some hiring but it turned out just to be a plan for chartering regional jets. He said at the time he wasn’t planning a new U.S. airline.
And maybe that was even true then, but it appears to no longer be true. The new airline is tentatively called ‘Moxy’ according to Airline Weekly which broke the story (subscription) but that has to be a temporary name, it’s the Marriott brand of hotels that debuted boldly declaring millenials don’t need desks and can have tiny rooms.
Moxy New York City Downtown, Credit: Marriott
Investors ponying up $100 million to start the carrier include Neeleman himself and former Air Canada CEO and United Chairman Robert Milton.
The plan is to offer point-to-point service from smaller airports outside of large cities bypassing hubs, using low costs to offer lower fares. By avoiding connections they plan to “get you there twice as fast for half the price.”
- Lower cost airports like Providence instead of Boston
- Will promote ease of travel through less congested terminals
- Point-to-point flying means filling up planes with low fares rather than connections
- Scheduling flights to avoid overnighting crews
- No seat back TV
They reportedly have orders for 60 Bombardier CS300s, accepting their first aircraft in early 2020 and planning to take the rest through 2024.
They plan to fly from secondary airports in the New York (Stewart), DC (Baltimore), Chicago (Gary, Indiana), San Francisco (Oakland, San Jose), and LA (Burbank, Ontario, Orange County) areas. They’ll fly to places like Orlando Sanford and St. Petersburg, Florida.
They want to fly to Mesa, Arizona rather than Phoenix, Concord not Charlotte, and Fort Worth Meacham. Even Cleveland would be served via Burke Lakefront Airport.
The Bombardier CS300 can fly transcons and also short transatlantics from the Northeast. So the long range plan includes Providence to Ireland the U.K. as well as Spain and France. They could offer four classes of service including a lie flat premium cabin.
While a low cost carrier they plan to offer free Wifi and the CS300 supports five-across seating (fewer middle seats) and 19 inch seat width (versus 18 on an Airbus narrowbody and 17 on a Boeing narrowbody).
The only major US airline that wasn’t around 20 years ago is JetBlue — founded by Neeleman. And he has the track record to do this. Will this work?
The new carrier won’t leverage connections and secondary airports provide few opportunities for partnerships with international airlines. They may succeed by being small “flying where they ain’t” and that’s useful to passengers in the way that Allegiant is useful flying Pasco, Washington to Mesa, Arizona non-stop with non-daily service. I don’t see this as a major disruptor in the industry for many years — certainly not the way that JetBlue itself was starting out (thanks to political muscle from Chuck Schumer) with gates and slots at New York JFK.
The biggest challenge starting a new airline – beyond credibility and capital – is access to congested airports where the major airlines collude with local governments to lock up gates. This strategy largely sidesteps that.