A new airline with budget-priced tickets is coming to John Wayne Airport in 2023, and it’s bringing cleaner, quieter planes, its officials said.
Breeze Airways will start service Feb. 16 from Orange County to Orlando – “connecting Disney to Disney,” as Breeze Chief Commercial Officer Lukas Johnson put it – and to Provo, Utah.
Johnson said Orlando is one of the largest markets without nonstop flights from OC; until now, travelers to Orlando have had to fly out of Los Angeles or connect somewhere along the way. (JWA-to-Provo flights will continue on to Orlando.)
Launched in 2021 by a former JetBlue founder, Breeze has been expanding and, with the addition of JWA, will serve 34 cities and metro areas including San Francisco, Las Vegas and Phoenix in the west and Tampa, Nashville and Pittsburgh out east.
Offerings such as letting families sit together for free, no-penalty changes or cancellation of bookings up to 15 minutes before departure, and several price levels including first class and extra legroom seats are what sets the airline apart from other budget carriers, Johnson said. (In July, Travel + Leisure magazine ranked Breeze No. 2 on its list of best domestic airlines.)
“We wanted to be as friendly as possible to guests, especially families,” Johnson said. “We built a brand around things people love and value.”
Of particular note for residents in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and other cities along the flight path around John Wayne Airport, Breeze will be using newly built Airbus A220-300 planes, which Johnson touted as being among the quietest and most fuel-efficient commercial aircraft.
Breeze joins Spirit Airlines, which began service in OC in 2020, and Allegiant Air and Sun Country Airline, which scored coveted gate space at JWA last year. In addition to the two destinations just announced, Johnson said Breeze will be looking for additional slots at JWA if they become available.
A legal settlement caps the annual number of passengers taking off or landing at John Wayne Airport, so county officials allot blocks of seats for airlines to serve the airport.
JWA Airport Director Charlene Reynolds said in a statement that the number of occupied seats on flights has rebounded to about 80%, near pre-pandemic levels. She added, “Breeze Airways is a welcome addition to our diverse group of carriers, which brings Orange County a fleet of cleaner, quieter aircraft. Based on the waitlist priority for new entrants, John Wayne Airport is pleased to have a variety of options for travelers offering affordability and convenience to a wide selection of destinations.”