Aha! The new regional US airline targeting leisure market to Reno

The airline industry in the US may not be immune to the effects of the pandemic, but it certainly has not deterred new airlines from entering the market. 

In 2021 alone, two airlines have made their debut: Avelo Airlines in April 2021 and Breeze Airways in May 2021. 

Now, the latest start-up airline has joined the club: Aha! Airlines. Catering to the leisure market, Aha stands for Airline, Hotel and Adventure.

However, it’s not entirely brand new. Airline and travel enthusiasts might remember the airline that was known as ExpressJet, which flew as United Express under United Airlines’ contract. The contract ended during the pandemic, and long story short, Aha! Airways is now the ‘new’ ExpressJet.

Aha! Airlines describes itself as the leisure brand of ExpressJet, and its goal is to provide holiday-makers from smaller West Coast cities a direct connection to Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO). Leisure travelers from this region ordinarily would have to make a connecting flight to a bigger hub before flying onwards to RNO. 

Using four 50-seater Embraer ERJ 145 regional jets, the airline will begin operating by late October 2021, flying three times weekly from RNO to the following mid-sized cities: 

  • Pasco/Tri-Cities, Washington

  • Bakersfield, California

  • Medford/Ashland, Oregon

  • Eugene/Springfield, Oregon

  • Ontario, California

  • Redmond/Bend, Oregon

  • Eureka/Arcata, California

  • Fresno/Yosemite, California

ExpressJet CEO Subodh Karnik said in a statement to the press that launching a regional airline now is promising while international travel is still off-limits. “We realized, look, nobody wants to go to Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat. They want to go to something much more (pandemic travel) friendly, at least for a while,” he said. “To me, the Reno market is almost like the perfect place.”

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