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Budget Airline Brings Breeze of Good News for Las Vegas Casinos

Budget carrier Breeze is seriously expanding its footprint, announcing 35 routes to 10 new cities, including a hugely important leisure destination.
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Air travel is about to get more expensive as jet fuel has jumped more than 30% in the past week amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The prices of oil and jet fuel are rising unabated. President Joe Biden has banned imports of oil from Russia to punish the country for the invasion, TheStreet and other outlets are reporting. Jet-fuel prices have surged to a nearly 14-year high in recent days, Bloomberg reported.

Rising travel, food and energy costs are coalescing in a way that could seriously hamper the recovery of the post-pandemic economy. 

And consumers in the coming months thus will be looking for cheaper options for both essentials and discretionary matters, like travel.

Affordable flights may be hard to come by at the big airlines, so this may be an opportunity for budget airlines to gain market share, if they can keep their prices competitively low.

And if timing is everything, Breeze Airways is picking an interesting time to expand its offerings west. And one of its most important new destinations could prove a boon for casino travelers.

Breeze Airways Looks West, Including at Sin City

The Salt Lake City budget airline, specializing in nonstop routes that are off the beaten path, on Tuesday introduced 35 new routes and 10 new cities. 

A key one: Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

Beginning June 9, the carrier will begin service between Sin City and Charleston, S.C., Huntsville, Ala., Jacksonville and Fort Myers, Fla., Norfolk and Richmond, Va., and Syracuse, N.Y. 

Breeze Air's Las Vegas destination page flags the casinos and lots of the city's other entertainment opportunities, like shows, rides, The Strip and restaurants.

To enable the broad expansion, Breeze is more than doubling its fleet, to 30 planes from 13. And the fleet is powered particularly by new jets from Airbus A220s  (EADSY) - Get Free Report

"The A220-300 is a game-changer for us as we now add long haul flights and transcontinental service," Breeze Chief Executive David Neeleman said on Tuesday via Facebook.

"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% less fuel, with half the noise footprint of past generations.”

The Las Vegas Review Journal puts the opportunity this way: Breeze, "which emphasizes employee kindness and 'nice' fares in its marketing plan, will launch in Las Vegas with a plane suited to fly long distances economically with a relatively small capacity, a move aimed to take the pressure off filling an aircraft every trip."

That's good news for Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Free Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get Free Report, Penn National Gaming (PENN) - Get Free Report, and other Las Vegas casino operators. Given the rise of casinos outside of Las Vegas, keeping traveling to Sin City affordable has become even more important for Las Vegas.

A true low-cost airline offering direct Las Vegas flights could make it easier for more people -- especially younger folks -- to visit Las Vegas. That's theoretically very good news.

Breeze's Routes and Rivals

Overall, Breeze now will offer 77 routes in 28 cities in 18 states.

In May the company will begin flights to Jacksonville, San Francisco and Nashville. In June, routes to Savannah, Sarasota, Las Vegas, Syracuse, Fort Myers, Florida, and Los Angeles come online. Flights to San Bernardino, Calif., will start in August.

The company will need the extra capacity to compete with peer budget airlines like Allegiant  (ALGT) - Get Free Report, Spirit Airlines  (SAVE) - Get Free Report and Frontier Airlines  (ULCC) - Get Free Report.

In February, Spirit and Frontier announced a merger valued at $6.6 billion. The transaction would create an even larger ultra-low-cost airline that would compete with the largest low-cost air carrier, Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Free Report.  

Spirit and Frontier don't offer complimentary snacks or drinks, but they will gladly charge you for them. And leg room is often about 5 or 6 inches tighter than standard airline flights, according to a Nerdwallet report.

The Review-Journal reports that "Breeze is tearing a page from Southwest Airlines’ playbook by offering free cancellations up to 15 minutes before flight departures and the ability to use that credit to purchase another flight up to two years later."