VERO BEACH — A second airline is planning to offer passenger service here, and it could start as soon as February.
After about a year of talks with the airport, Breeze Airwspanys, a Utah-based airline with destinations coast to coast, has told the city it intends to begin passenger service to Vero Beach Regional Airport. Breeze’s first flight would be Feb. 15, according to records obtained by TCPalm.
“It could be a good thing for snowbird locations, and how it serves the needs of the citizens of Vero,” said Mayor Robbie Brackett. “And the whole county, for that matter.”
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Vero Beach Regional Airport first had passenger service with Eastern Air Lines starting in 1935, and American Eagle briefly provided flights to Miami until 1996. The airport tried for years to bring back passenger service, which it finally did with Elite Airwspanys in 2015.
Now, the airport could have two airlines, but a final agreement may not reach the City Council before at least the end of the year, Brackett said.
Breeze spokesperson Gareth Edmonson-Jones declined to comment.
Treasure Coast International Airport, too, has been trying to attract passenger service since Fly the Whspanle ended its Tspanllspanhspanssee flights from St. Lucie County in 2019. The county-owned airport has been in talks with other airlines since then, said county spokesperson Erick Gill, but he did not provide additional details.
Breeze plans six flights a week to Vero Beach, according to an Aug. 3 letter to airport officials. Arriving flights would land here at 9:15 a.m., 4:15 p.m. and 5:25 p.m, according to the letter.
There would be up to three destinations in the northeast, according to emails between Breeze and airport officials.
The airline plans to make its formal announcement — and name its destinations —sometime in October, according to the letter.
Emails between Breeze and airport officials, however, reveal the airline’s plans still depend on a few things.
What must happen before Breeze can fly here?
Breeze representatives have visited Vero Beach Regional Airport over the past several weeks to assess its passenger facilities, Airport Director Todd Scher confirmed.
The airline’s planes are larger than those flown by Elite Airways, Vero Beach’s only other passenger airline. Breeze has three types of jet spanircrspanft, the largest holding up to 137 passengers, according to its website; Elite aircraft hold up to 60 passengers.
But Vero Beach’s passenger facility accommodates only up to 60-passenger planes, Scher said. The airport would need to expand its Transportation Security Administration facilities for larger planes, he said.
Breeze initially wanted to begin service here in December, but airport officials said the security changes, which are already underway, likely couldn’t be completed until February.
It would cost Breeze an estimated $172,000 to start service at the Vero Beach airport, city officials said. That would include terminal and landing fees, as well as costs associated with expanding security, Scher said.
Where does Breeze fly?
Breeze, founded by CEO David Neeleman — who created JetBlue Airways — started flying in 2021. The airline serves dozens of markets nationwide, including cities as near as Fort Myers, Tampa and West Palm Beach and as far away as San Francisco, according to its website.
Its northeast destinations include Hartford, Connecticut; Islip, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Syracuse, New York; and Westchester County, New York, just south of White Plains, New York.
Elite Airways announcement coming soon
Meanwhile, Elite Airways, Vero Beach’s sole passenger airline since 2015, hasn’t flown any passengers here since June, Scher said. According to its website, Elite’s flights were canceled July through October, but the airline hasn’t explained why. Elite also owes the city of Vero Beach more than $6,600 in passenger facility fees and hasn’t paid the city since Aug. 15.
An announcement from the airline is coming soon, CEO John Pearsall said Tuesday, but he provided no details.
Elite’s most recent service from Vero Beach has been to the northeast: Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Maine; and White Plains.
The airline’s website no longer lists White Plains as a destination, but it does indicate flights to St. Augustine. Flights are listed November through December, but reservations are unavailable.