New US Airline May Order 60 Planes This Week, Preparing to Compete With the Big Carriers

JetBlue just ordered 60 Bombardier C-Series jets, now called the Airbus A220, at fire sale prices.

Now JetBlue’s founder, Dave Neeleman, is about to finalize his own order for 60 Airbus A220s to launch his new US airline that’s tentatively named ‘Moxy’ (but I believe that’s just a placeholder and will change prior to launch, if only because it’s also the name of the Marriott hotel brand with small rooms that launched while eschewing desks).

Swiss International Air Lines new Bombardier CSeries passenger jet on display at Singapore Airshow, Copyright: prestonia / 123RF Stock Photo

Neeleman led Morris Air, which sold to Southwest, and when his non-compete ended he launched JetBlue. He also helped launch WestJet, and as a dual Brazilian citizen also launched Azul there. He’s led the turnaround of Star Alliance member TAP Air Portugal as well.

And now he’s working to start an airline that will have scale almost immediately at launch. Investors include former Air Canada CEO and United Chairman Robert Milton. And he’s reportedly raised $100 million to offer point-to-point service from smaller airports outside of large cities bypassing hubs, using low costs to offer lower fares.

Initial reports last month when news of the airline plan broke had them planning to acquire 60 of these planes, though it sounds like a formal order may be close — with an announcement coming potentially this week at the Farnborough air show, and deliveries coming between 2020 and 2024.

This aircraft can fly transcons and also short transatlantics from the Northeast. Their investor presentation suggests they plan to offer free Wifi despite operating as a low cost carrier, and use the aircraft for five-across seating (fewer middle seats) generating 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. What he doesn’t have this time, that was crucial to JetBlue’s success, was Senator Chuck Schumer moving heaven and earth to open up New York JFK for his launch hence the small regional airport strategy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. At some point doesn’t one think something has to “give’? We have seen this picture show before with various airline start ups coming and going. Gary remember Presidential Airlines based at Dulles? There are so many passengers flying each day and as the looming slow down approaches travel always leads in reductions.

    One point I will make in support of the low costs airlines some are more comfortable in main cabin than their legacy competitors AA is case in point.

  2. If this thing actually gets off the ground, I’ll be a customer. I love the idea of using underutilized, better-located airports on a point-to-point network, with smaller, less cramped planes.

    For example, talk of using Meacham Airport instead of DFW. Cleveland Burke, instead of Cleveland Hopkins. Stewart International or White Plains instead of EWR/LGA/JFK. Hopefully Toronto Billy Bishop instead of Pearson.

    This would be a business travelers’ dream. Flying in or out of any of the gigantic hubs is a disaster anymore – ORD, LGA, SFO, DFW, ATL all are capacity constrained and have major headaches and issues if even the slightest thing goes wrong.

  3. @Too Much Flying —> While I agree in principle to what you’re saying, it’s more problematic (I think) on the West Coast. There seem to be easier “alternative” airports in the Midwest, East and South than in the West.

    For example, there are five commercial airports in what can be described (generously) as the “Greater [SF] Bay Area”: SFO, OAK, SJC, STS, and SMF. Having lived in the area since 1976, I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone who considers Sacramento to be part of the Bay Area. Santa Rosa *might* be, as Sonoma County is considered one of the nine Bay Area counties, but it’s still at least 1-2 hours from all of the Bay Area save Sonoma and Marin counties, as well as parts of Napa county. Plus BART doesn’t travel to STS (the way it does to SFO and OAK), meaning more cars on the road, etc., etc.

    The same is true for the “Greater LA Area,” with LAX, BUR, ONT, LGB, and SNA all in use as it is, but no one in their right mind flies into anything but LAX (total nightmare) or BUR is their destination is LA “proper” or the Valley; LGB can work if you’re going to the South Bay or northern Orange Co.; SNA only works for OC; and ONT is favored only by those in the “Inland Empire.”

    And so on…

    STILL, I am looking forward to seeing what will happen with “Moxy” (Gawd, I hope it’s just a placeholder name), and where it will actually fly.

  4. I live in the North Bay (SF Bay Area) and STS would be easier to get to than SFO or OAK. And I have family in the NY mid-Hudson Valley. Really looking forward to a STS-SWF nonstop 🙂 LOL

  5. I have found the mid Atlantic to be under served PHF is a wonderful little airport and ORF is fabulous but PHF is served by almost no one and ORF is under utilized. The North east is well served as well as is the south east, the mid Atlantic states seem to be ignored.

  6. @Nick PHF is underserved because of the AirTran/SW merger primarily. Understandably for an airline like Southwest, serving two airports so close together wasn’t a fit. PHF also happens to be on a particularly brutal stretch of I-64 between Norfolk and I-295/Richmond. Hard for anyone in VB/Norfolk or Richmond to really use it — even at a discount on air fare — when travel time is so unpredictable.

  7. @mangoMan — STS is *great* . . . IF you live in the North Bay; not so convenient if you’re in San Francisco, on the Peninsula, the East, or South Bay. I mean, Monterey is convenient if you’re in, say Watsonville south, but if you’re in Santa Cruz, SJC is much better/easier.

    I *did* say above that STS can work if you’re in Marin, Sonoma, and parts of Napa. I’m in Berkeley, and certainly OAK is easy; so is SFO via BART.

    Just proof positive that no one airport suits all! ;^)

  8. Bring on the competition and on these nice C Series now A220 series jets. There’s a lot to like.

  9. You are on your own (literally) at many small airports. No lounges, few amenities and even fewer options in case of flight disruptions. More competition in the airline industry is sorely needed. Unfortunately, an airline with 60 A220s that flies from tiny, remote airports won’t provide much competition. You know the old story about how to make a small fortune…

  10. Don’t forget SCK for greater Bay Area. I live in Pleasanton and braved a cheap Allegiant flight recently from Stockton to/from Phoenix-Mesa. When getting on board my wife and I ended up sitting behind a couple that lives down the block from us. Drive to SCK is easy, especially during reverse commute, Easy parking a two minute walk to the terminal. I’d use SCK again especially if a more reliable airline flew there than just Allegiant

  11. He is a smart operator good at starting airlines and has a great airplane to start with.

    With Morris, WestJet, JetBlue, and Azul as guides it is hard to bet against him.

    50-50 that he leaves it either as a successful airline (like JetBlue) or being bought by someone else to kill the competition (like Morris Air).

  12. The visionary David Neeleman (founder of Jetblue, Azul; enhancer/advisor/savior to several others) has an impressive track record…

    …and our country DESPERATELY needs a new entrant to shake things up and put the cozy cartel we now have on notice that they can’t just continue to carve up the market amongst themselves with each acting in tandem on nominally distinguishable (faux) “differences” in pricing practices and product offerings designed to accomplish nothing more than to blur the lines enough to evade the legally defined threshold for potential anti-trust/anti-competitive price/product fixing collusion that they’re doing with the proverbial “wink & nod” anyway…

    …that flyers know as the industry’s gluttonous “Race to the Bottom” to exploit the lack of competition we now have featuring impenetrable fortress hubs and nearly all airlines offering the same (badly degraded and crappy products like the no legroom “1st class” seats seen in the Delta Air Lines post re wrongful termination of agents in Seattle…) types of restrictions on airfares, and nominally distinguishable, overcrowded, densified planes that produces the windfall profits being plowed into ever larger and larger than the already obscenely large stock buybacks now taking place at our oligopolist airlines…

    Yes, Virginia, a new airline competitor is a GOOD THING – unless you’re among the very, very, very few who benefit from the greed grabs masquerading as “passenger preferred ‘improvements’ giving you only what you want…”

    Uh-huh…as if anyone wants a teeny tiny toilet for teeny tiny people (and seats that the fat cats can’t fit into themselves but expect everyone else to like CEOs who freely admit they don’t bother flying the crappy planes they buy…or CEOs who call passengers cheapskates who get crap because they’re cheap AF peasants undeserving of anything more than the abuse they now get while they steal sand from taxpayers to shore up dunes in front of their oceanfront multi-million palatial vacay homes…)

  13. @Pete Martinez —> The problem with SCK being considered a “greater” Bay Area airport is exactly what you cite: “I’d use SCK again especially if a more reliable airline flew there than just Allegiant.”

    The ONLY airline serving SCK *is* Allegiant, and as it is, they only serve three destinations: Las Vegas (LAS), Mesa (AZA) — OK, so it’s close to Phoenix — and San Diego (SAN). In my mind, that’s far more limiting than, say MRY (which I also don’t consider a “greater” Bay Area airport). At least it’s served by AA, AS, UA, and G4, which translates to easy (even if it’s not cheap) connections via LAX, SFO, PHX, and LAS — much more convenient (IMHO) than SCK.

    STS is also served by four airlines — AA (1 destination), AS (5), UA(1), and SY (2). Non-stop flights are available to LAS, LAX, MSP, PDX, PHX, SEA, SFO (it’s far cheaper to drive, though), SAN, and SNA, and certainly each of those destinations offer a wide variety of connections.

    I’m *not* saying you’re wrong, but rather I’m agreeing that it’s not all that viable an option if SCK is only being served by Allegiant.

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