- Breeze Airways will begin three weekly flights from Orlando International to Plattsburgh
- It will compete indirectly with Allegiant from Sanford
- Spirit operated from Orlando International until late 2017, but it lasted less than a year
Breeze Airways has added Plattsburgh, New York, to its network, targeting Canadian sun-seeking snowbirds. While Plattsburgh has a small MSA population of ~85,000 people, the city is located near the Canadian border and is about 65 miles (105 km) from Montreal. Canadians have a long history of crossing the border to avail of lower fares, helped by lower operating costs and taxes in the US. This is Breeze’s first attempt at this market. It comes shortly after the carrier inaugurated Tampa to Raleigh Durham.
Breezing from Orlando to Plattsburgh
Beginning on November 28th, the 1,199-mile (1,930 km) route from Orlando International will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. A dummy booking on its website shows that it will use the 137-seat Airbus A220-300. The route is scheduled as follows, with all times local:
- Orlando to Plattsburgh: MX268, 08:00-11:15 (3h 15m block time)
- Plattsburgh to Orlando: MX269, 12:15-15:40 (3h 25m)
While it plans a hefty 60-minute turn in Plattsburgh, it is 120 minutes on the 28th, suggesting lots of promotional activity. If this is true, it is great, but this approach must be widely applied. A common complaint among Breeze watchers (not about the weather) is a lack of promotion and awareness, together with what is perceived as frequent route churn.
First served in 2016
Cirium shows that Orlando International to Plattsburgh had non-stop flights by Spirit between November 2016 and September 2017, lasting less than a year. The frequency varied from a hefty daily in winter to three weekly in summer.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.
US DOT T-100 data indicates that it carried 50,082 roundtrip passengers with an average seat load factor of just 70.5%. It had too much capacity in winter, reflected in SLFs ranging from 50.0% to 79.1% between December and March. It did not help that it was still new.
Far fewer seats for sale in the summer meant SLFs were higher, between 84.5-88.9% from May to August, but I do not know how fares changed. Not that it mattered: it ended quickly. Regardless, Breeze’s three weekly winter operation (with lower-capacity aircraft) looks very sensible and, generally speaking, competitive with its indirect competition.
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Allegiant operates from Sanford
Allegiant has long operated between Orlando Sanford and Plattsburgh. Flights launched in February 2008 and continue to this day. In the week Breeze begins in November, Allegiant will operate twice-weekly, once with the A319 (shown below) and the other with the A320. In four winter weeks, specific peak times, flights rise to between six and eight weekly.
Photo: Ryan Fletcher I Shutterstock.
Interestingly, when Spirit operated in 2016/2017, T-100 data shows that Allegiant’s traffic only fell by 4%, meaning that the vast majority of Spirit’s passengers (50,000+) were new to Plattsburgh. It grew the Orlando market by about 50%.
Breeze lost $175 million…
The airline lost ~$175 million between January 2022 and March 2023 (the start of Q1 2022 to the end of Q1 2023). Its most significant loss thus far was in Q1 2023 ($48 million). Despite revenue rising significantly, mainly from greater activity and lower fares, each $1 in revenue took $1.71 in expenses to achieve – not good. It lost 71 US cents at the operating level for every $1 in revenue.
US DOT Form 41 figures for Q1 2023 – the most recent quarter to which I have access – show that it had a 75% load factor that month despite an average fare (excluding taxes) of $44, down from $58 in the previous quarter. It is unclear what it generated in ancillary sales to supplement this.
Photo: via Breeze Airways.
Despite a 10% shorter average sector length than Spirit, Breeze’s Q1 yield was 29% lower. Of course, this data is now outdated, and the carrier remains relatively new. It will be exciting to see how subsequent quarters perform.
What do you make of it all? Let us know in the comments.