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Low-fare airline pioneer chooses fleet for a new U.S. carrier

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By Chris McGinnis, SF Gate

It looks like JetBlue founder David Neeleman’s plan to start a new U.S. airline is moving beyond the concept stage, because he just picked out the Airbus jets he intends to use.

[post_ads]About a month ago, we reported on a story in Airline Weekly that said Neeleman and two partners had pulled together at least $100 million in start-up capital to create a start-up U.S. carrier tentatively named Moxy.

And now Airbus has confirmed that it just received a commitment from “a group of experienced investors led by David Neeleman” to acquire 60 A220-300 aircraft for delivery beginning in 2021.

The A220-300 is Airbus’ new designation for the Bombardier CS300 following its recent acquisition of a majority stake in the Canadian manufacturer’s latest regional jet line. Ironically, another recent customer for the A220-300 is JetBlue, which just ordered 60 of them itself.

The new Airbus line of jets includes the 130-150 seat A220-300 and the smaller 100-seat A220-200 (formerly the CS100). They will have 3x2 seating and will offer considerable fuel cost savings over earlier models.

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Neeleman even provided a quote for Airbus to use in its announcement. “After years of U.S. airline consolidation, the conditions are improving for a new generation of U.S. airline to emerge, focused on passenger service and satisfaction,” he said.

“The A220 will enable us to serve thinner routes in comfort without compromising cost, especially on longer-range missions. With deliveries starting in 2021, we will have ample time to assemble a world-class management team and another winning business model.”
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Although Neeleman hasn’t yet revealed any details about where the new airline will operate, earlier reports suggested that its likely route network would focus on smaller secondary markets and airports like Burbank, Providence and Ft. Worth.

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Before he launched JetBlue in 1998-99, Neeleman had worked for Southwest and had been involved in the founding of Canada’s WestJet. After he left JetBlue in 2008, Neeleman started Brazil’s Azul, which is now that country’s third-largest airline. In 2015, he and other investors acquired a majority stake in TAP Air Portugal.

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