Breeze Airways, a new low-cost airline, will invest $5.2 million to build an operations center in Norfolk, producing 116 jobs, the governor’s office announced Friday. The airline also will offer nonstop flights out of Richmond International Airport and Norfolk International Airport.
The Salt Lake City, Utah-based startup company, which offers service to mid-size U.S. markets, will include Norfolk as one of its first four operations bases in the United States, and it also will offer flights out of Richmond International Airport, Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release Friday. The airline started accepting flight reservations Friday morning.
“Aviation has long been ingrained in the Hampton Roads economy, and the arrival of Breeze Airways is another sign of this region’s growing position as a commercial flight hub,” Northam said in a statement. “The post-pandemic world will offer increasing opportunities for travel and tourism, and the addition of this new low-cost carrier at Norfolk International Airport will be a catalyst for economic growth, welcoming visitors to our commonwealth with convenient, nonstop service to often overlooked markets. We are honored that Breeze Airways has selected Virginia as one of its first domestic locations and look forward to building a strong and successful partnership with the company.”
David Neeleman, who founded JetBlue and other airlines, is behind Breeze, which will begin offering flights in June, mainly in markets not served by other low-cost carriers. All employees, including airline crew and maintenance workers, will remain local, the governor’s office said.
“Breeze is excited to be announcing two destinations in Virginia: Norfolk and Richmond,” Neeleman said in a statement. “Norfolk, particularly, is a strong inbound destination with a significant number of unserved markets that will provide Breeze with many years of growth opportunities. We’re looking forward to providing Virginians with low fares and nonstop service, getting them where they’re going in half the time, usually for about half the price.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city of Norfolk, the Norfolk Airport Authority and other regional and state organizations to secure the project. Northam approved a $400,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist the city, and the company is eligible to receive benefits from the major business facility job tax credit for new full-time jobs created.