ExpressJet Airlines announced this morning they have ceased operations effective immediately and is filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
And with it, short-lived Aha! Airlines is out of business.
ExpressJet Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection today, citing difficulties such as aircraft availability and airport infrastructure, revenue impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, and high fuel prices. The company plans to to enter into a court-supervised liquidation of its assets.
ExpressJet's rebranding to Aha!, which is short for air, hotel, and adventure — was a rebirth in some respects for the regional airline that was attempting to create success mainly out of Reno Airport (RNO) as a hub.
Continental Airlines was an early owner, and later it spun off. It briefly operated planes as a low-cost airline under the ExpressJet name in the 2000s before being bought by SkyWest Airlines and combined with another regional carrier, Atlantic Southeast Airlines.
ExpressJet also operated flights for Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, among others. ExpressJet flew approximately 450 planes at its peak but that was years ago.
“A combination of conditions led us to this decision,” ExpressJet CEO Subodh Karnik said in a statement. “Despite the valiant efforts of our employees to overcome challenges, and despite great support by our cities and airports – especially Reno-Tahoe and the community there, we arrived at a point where termination of operations was in the best interest of our stakeholders.”
Aha! was still announcing new routes as recently as 2 weeks ago. No one ever wants to see this, but ExpressJet was giving it one last go with a different business model and came up short.