United’s CFO Left, Raised $125 Million, And Is Launching A New Airline This Year

Breeze Airways – the startup airline from JetBlue founder Dave Neeleman – isn’t the only new airline preparing to enter the U.S. domestic market.

United’s CFO left two years ago, put together $125 million in capital, and bought tiny XTRA Airways which had just one old Boeing 737-400 left but which had something a lot more valuable: an operating certificate. They’re already allowed to fly scheduled service.

They expect to launch this year, and sound like an Allegiant clone. Indeed founder Andrew Levy is former President of Allegiant. They plan to operate Boeing 737-800s (that 737-400 was just for squatting on the operating certificate). The first leased aircraft arrives next week. Over the summer it will run charter flights, and later in the year will begin scheduled service.

Like Ryanair, this airline will configure its Boeing 737-800s with a dense 189 seats. By contrast Southwest Airlines has just 175 seats on its 737-800s. American Airlines, which offers extra legroom seating in first class, had just 150 seats on Boeing 737-800s before the US Airways merger and is moving to put 172 seats on them now.

The operating plan:

  • short non-stop flights
  • to leisure destinations
  • where there’s no competition
  • avoiding large congested airports
  • offering low prices

The airline hasn’t made its name or launch routes public yet.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Have we ever seen this many airlines formed in the US? I think most of us were very concerned after the mega mergers that left us with the big 3. And southwest/AirTran isn’t really a budget airline anymore.

  2. Let’s trust they will add Palm Springs routes to smaller airports (Austin, Santa Fe, San Antonio, Reno and perhaps Vegas)….

  3. A new airline from a United Airlines bean-counter modeled on Allegiant. How exactly is that not going to suck?

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