Often the announcement of a new airline startup is met with a certain level of skepticism. Given the immense regulatory hurdles and financial barriers to entry, many a would-be airline entrepreneur has failed to liftoff.
However, when David Neeleman, one of the most prolific airline entrepreneurs in history announces a new airline, the industry takes notice because there is no doubt that it will happen. Having founded or co-founded Morris Air (later merged with Southwest), WestJet, JetBlue, Azul (Brazil) as well as holding an equity stake in TAP Air Portugal, Mr. Neeleman leaves behind an unparalleled track record of success.
With the 2018 announcement that Neeleman was raising $100M to fund a new startup code-named ‘Moxy Airways,’ the main question was when the airline would take flight. At the time, the targeted revenue passenger launch was projected for 2020, which has now been pushed to mid-2021. Last January an Airbus Press Release confirmed that Moxy had finalized their order of 60 A220-300 aircraft announced at the July 2018 Farnborough International Air Show. At that time Neeleman stated,
“With a low cost of operation and spacious cabin, the A220 will allow us to provide passengers with lower fares and a high quality, comfortable flying experience. The A220s ability to operate profitably in thin, under-served markets across a broad spectrum of ranges is unique.”
According to Airbus, the A220-300s (with an order book totaling more than 500) will be produced at a new Mobile, Alabama facility being constructed adjacent to the existing A320 assembly facility. The aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney's PW1500G geared turbofan engines which, when combined with airframe efficiencies, will result in a 20% fuel savings. The A220 was previously known as the Bombardier C-Series Jet, before a majority stake in the program was acquired by Airbus in October 2017.
What else do we know?
Neeleman's new airline will offer point-to-point service from secondary airports, bypassing hubs and cutting airfares and travel time by up to fifty percent. The airline will focus on under-served communities, those without non-stop service between city pairs, and will be technology driven. A robust app will offer passengers more options from seat selection, to pre-ordering meals, to easily canceling or rebooking flights. The A220-300 jets ordered have larger windows and only one unpopular "middle seat" as compared to similar capacity single aisle aircraft.
In a December 2018 interview with Conde Nast Traveler Neeleman stated, "I doubt we will have a single route where we will have competition. Every route, we'll be the only one flying it nonstop. And you know the power of that: At Azul, on 70 percent of our routes we have no nonstop competition." Although it takes a lot of moxie to start an airline (or five), ‘Moxy’ won’t be the final name of the airline as the trade name “Moxy Hotels” is already being used by Marriott International as part of their BONVOY® collection.
Last June, Moxy signed a Letter of intent with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) for the purchase and leaseback of nine A220-300 for delivery between 2021-2022, so we know the aircraft are on the way. According to GECAS, the transaction was brokered by Plane View Partners, a Los Angeles based aviation and aerospace firm on behalf of Moxy.
Although we know Neeleman has a team in Salt Lake City building out the underlying technology, and a team of airline management consultants at Plane View Partners in Los Angeles, a headquarters location hasn't been announced. Also unknown at the time of writing is the final name of the airline and the mid-2021 launch routes, which are being held very close to the vest, for obvious reasons. We will keep you updated as these decisions are made public.
As reported by Bloomberg, last Thursday (9/12/2019) at an Embraer SA event in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, David Neeleman announced that “Moxy” is considering the acquisition of Embraer E195s currently being retired from his Brazilian Airline Azul. Additionally, although details are sketchy, Mr. Neeleman stated that the new airline would be based near a “technology center,” that wouldn’t be Silicon Valley.
Source(s): Airbus, Conde Nast Traveler, GECAS, Bloomberg