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Gov. Justice announces historic airline partnership

March 28th, 2023 by WCBC Radio

Gov. Jim Justice today announced a partnership with the successful new low cost carrier Breeze Airways to connect West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) with at least five cities over the next two years. New nonstop flights to Orlando, Florida (MCO) and Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) will begin May 31, 2023. The new routes are now on sale at introductory fares of $59 and $49, respectively, one way. At least three more destinations, including New York City, are slated to be added over the next 24 months. 

This innovative partnership between the state, Kanawha County, and the City of Charleston comes after years of decline in available destinations from smaller airports around the country, including West Virginia International Yeager Airport. The flights announced today will more than double air connectivity to West Virginia’s capital.

“I’ve said over and over that our airports in West Virginia are our lifeblood,” Gov. Justice said. “They fuel our economy, bring in tourism, and their ripple effects are off-the-charts. CRW is absolutely knocking it out of the park, and it’s a testament to West Virginia’s resurgence as a top destination for tourism, and as the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I’m so proud to welcome Breeze Airways to Almost Heaven, because I know that they will find success here, but above all, they will find a new home among our hills.”

Breeze was launched in 2021 by JetBlue founder and former CEO David Neeleman with a mission to fill a key gap in America’s air-travel offerings: efficient, affordable, direct flights between secondary airports, bypassing hubs for shorter travel times. It was recently named one of the best domestic airlines in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure. Breeze offers travelers the option of three price levels, “Nice,” “Nicer,” and “Nicest,” the latter of which includes a first-class seat on the airline’s Airbus A220 aircraft. 

“As we look to fill the gaps left by larger carriers in midsized markets, Charleston/Yeager is a great fit for Breeze’s business model,” David Neeleman, Breeze Airways’ Founder and CEO said. “With our new ‘Charleston to Charleston’ service, we’ll connect the West Virginia and South Carolina cities for the very first time, and our new nonstop to Orlando is also adding another currently unserved destination from CRW. We know the Almost Heaven community will enjoy Breeze’s affordability, flexibility, and our family friendly policies including free family seating.”

Breeze has grown rapidly since its founding, now with 145 nonstop routes between 36 cities in 22 states nationally. The airline has ordered 80 brand new Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with options for 40 more. 

This summer, Breeze aircraft will be seen touching down in the Mountain State. The partnership includes adding three additional routes in the first two years, including potential service to New York City and the west coast.

The announcement follows several years of record-breaking tourism growth in West Virginia and a year in which the state was labeled a must-see tourism destination by publications such as Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast, Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, TIME, CNN, and USA Today.

“I’d like to thank the Governor for this bold commitment to air service in West Virginia,” Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby said. “At a time when airports across the nation are losing flights, he’s shown an unwavering commitment to ensuring continued growth in the state’s tourism industry. This partnership will not only provide better connectivity for residents but will make Almost Heaven, West Virginia more accessible to millions of new travelers. It’s truly a historic day.”

An expansion of this magnitude at West Virginia International Yeager Airport is unprecedented. Airport officials are excited about the long-term possibilities created by this new partnership. 

"We are so excited to welcome Breeze Airways to West Virginia International Yeager Airport," Airport Director & CEO, Dominique Ranieri said. “Breeze will provide nonstop flights to some of the Airport’s unserved and underserved markets at low fares, offering additional travel options to our region. Thanks to this new partnership with the State of West Virginia, Kanawha County, and the City of Charleston, we look forward to growing with Breeze Airways.” 

“Air service is economic development,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said. “Congratulations to Governor Justice and Secretary Ruby, for what will be known as a signature moment for air service in the state of West Virginia. The Kanawha County Commission is tremendously proud of West Virginia International Yeager Airport, our team, and specifically the dynamic leadership under the direction of Dominique Ranieri.”

“The announcement of Breeze Airways joining CRW as a new carrier is exciting,” Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango said. “CRW continues to grow, and this new partnership would not have happened without the assistance of Governor Justice and Secretary Ruby with the WV Office of Tourism. This announcement is pivotal in providing expanded service to those who fly in and out of CRW daily.”

“Kanawha County is excited to welcome Breeze Airways to the CRW airport,” Kanawha County Commissioner Lance Wheeler said. “This is a great economic development and will be instrumental in offering expanded airline services. The Kanawha County Commission is incredibly proud to work with Governor Justice, Secretary Ruby and the WV Office of tourism to continue to expand CRW.”

“Charleston is quickly becoming a destination for its diverse and growing arts and music scene, family-favorite events like the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta and FestivALL, sports tourism and leisure travel," Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin said. "Through this partnership with Breeze Airways, we have the opportunity to bring more folks to our Capital City and the region.” 

Those wanting to book a flight from Charleston to Orlando or Charleston, South Carolina, can do so now at or via the Breeze app.