By ALEX MALM and JOHN HOWELL
Finally answering the question will Rhode Stand T.F. Green International ever offer non stop service to the West Coast, Breeze Airways announced Tuesday introductory fares to Los Angeles at $99 starting June 29.
“Today is an exciting day for Rhode Island as we announce a long-awaited nonstop route to the West Coast,” said Gov. Dan McKee at a press conference held at the Mary Brennan Room at the terminal.
Transcontinental airline service was argued as a reason to lengthen runways at the airport for years. Proposals ranged from parallel 10,000 foot runways that would have virtually leveled huge commercial and residential sections of Warwick to the far more modest extension of Runway 5-23 to 8,700 feel that is there today.
“With new flights bringing increased access to Rhode Island, we look forward to welcoming more overnight visitors which means more spending at our local restaurants, more spending at our retail businesses, and more money spent on arts and cultural activities, all supporting thousands of jobs and, in turn, supporting tens of thousands of families across our state ,” said McKee.
The non-stop service to LAX will be on Wednesday and Saturdays .
The flights will be operated with Breeze’s fleet of brand-new Airbus A220s.
The inauguration of non-stop service to the West Coast and the airline that was founded in 2018 did not escape Breeze Airlines Vice President Danny Cox. He said the transcontinental service is in its "infancy" and that Breeze and Green are looking to grow together. Cox and others on the speaking program talked of a developing partnership and the possibility of an even greater Breeze presence at Green.
But on Tuesday the focus was on the increased flights and what that would mean for the state.
Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey said that he has never flown first class before, and is going on a business trip this summer to California. He said for just over $400 he will be flying first class for the first time.
“Greater connectivity to and from Southern New England is wonderful news for the Rhode Island economy including our tourism industry,” said McCaffrey. “These exciting new routes will create even more job creation opportunities and more revenue for our city and our state.”
In addition to the flights to LAX, Breeze will be offering flights to Columbus Ohio and Jacksonville Florida on Friday and Mondays starting May 27. The Columbus flight will start off at $49 one way and Jacksonville will be starting off at $59.
The airline will also be offering flights to Savannah Georgia beginning June 3 on Monday and Fridays for $59 one way, and to Richmon Virgina on Sunday and Thursdays starting June 30. The flights to Virginia will be starting at $49 one way.
“This is a wonderful day, not just for Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport, but for Rhode Island itself as we welcome our airport’s first ever direct flights to the West Coast,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. “These five new routes are welcome news for leisure and business travelers to and from our state. We truly appreciate Breeze Airways’ continued investment in service to our state and region.”
According to a press release Breeze Airways began flying from Rhode Island in the summer of 2021 and currently offers three nonstop destinations from T.F. Green , including service to Charleston, South Carolina, Norfolk Virginia and to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. With the addition of these five new routes, Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport now offers 32 non-stop destinations; an increase of 88 percent since 2016, with more non-stop routes available now than before the COVID-19 pandemic (23 as of Winter 2019-2020).
In a press release U.S. Senator Jack Reed, said he worked with the the Federal Aviation Administration for years on RIAC’s version of “Project Runway.”
“With this goal in mind: more flight choices for Rhode Islanders, including West Coast service, and more options to connect our state to destinations across the country and around the world,” said Reed.
“This is another positive development for Rhode Island air travel and there will be many more to come.”
Rhode Island Airport Commission Chairman Jonathan Savage, said that in order to continue to add more flights, and retain the flights the airport has now it is important for people to continue to use the flights regularly.
“As our nation continues to recover from the pandemic, the Ocean State is becoming one of the nation’s most preferred leisure destinations, and a preferred visitor gateway to all of New England,” said Savage. “We’re proud that Breeze Airways continues to recognize Rhode Island as a growing attraction for both leisure and business travel and are confident that this is the beginning of more good things to come for both Breeze Airways and PVD.”
Cox said Breeze's first flights began at T.F. Green right before Memorial Day with 18 cities and 42 routes. With the addition of the five new destinations they have almost doubled that amount.
Cox said that they have served over a half a million guests on their flights .
“We truly appreciate Breeze Airways continued investments into our local economy, particularly with the nonstop route to Los Angeles,” said House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi. “This is truly a historic day for the airport. More affordable flights to and from these exciting destinations is good news for Rhode Island’s economy and we look forward to continuing a fruitful partnership with Breeze Airways.”
According to a press release Breeze’s initial A220 aircraft deliveries will feature 126 seats, including 36 First Class seats in a two-by-two configuration, 10 Extra Legroom seats, and 80 Standard Economy seats in a two-by-three configuration. The A220 seat configuration is “dynamic” and later deliveries will offer 137 total seats, 12 First Class seats, 45 Extra Legroom seats and 80 Standard Economy seats onboard.
“The A220-300 is a game-changer for us as we now add long haul flights and transcontinental service,” said Breeze’s Founder and CEO David Neeleman. “The Airbus aircraft embodies the Breeze ideal of merging kindness with technology, pairing unrivaled passenger comfort with eco-friendly efficiency. With the A220, Breeze is giving our Guests the widest cabin, highest ceiling, largest windows and biggest overhead stowage in this class, while still managing to burn 25 percent less fuel, with half the noise footprint of past generations.”
Mayor Frank Picozzi on Tuesday said that after growing up in Warwick he has seen many sunrises over the ocean. He said in the near future he plans on taking advantage of one of the Breeze flights in order to see the sunset that way.
“I’m proud to help announce these important new connections for our state, courtesy of our state’s fastest growing airline partner, Breeze Airways,” said Picozzi. “Rhode Island T. F. Green International Airport prides itself as the ‘easy airport’ in our region, and the City of Warwick couldn’t be happier to welcome more visitors and celebrate this expansion of the ‘easy’ airline, Breeze Airways.”
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