Out of runway: ExpressJet, operating as aha! Airlines, files for bankruptcy

aha! Airlines

ExpressJet Airlines, which was once a major regional US carrier and has been operating as aha! Airlines in recent months, has filed for bankruptcy protection and ceased operations after failing to build its business as planned. 

Aha! Airlines, which stands for Airline, Hotel and Adventure, launched operations in late 2021 and was ExpressJet’s way of trying to keep going after it lost a contract to provide regional operations for United during the pandemic.  

At one point, ExpressJet Airlines had more than 450 aircraft, operating services as Delta Connection and United Express for several decades.  

After its relaunch in 2021, ExpressJet operated as aha! Airlines from Reno-Tahoe to 11 cities in the western states as a leisure carrier and also provided ad-hoc charter services over the past six months. The fleet was comprised of just four 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 regional jets. 

“A combination of conditions led us to this decision,” said Subodh Karnik, Chairman and CEO of ExpressJet, in a statement on August 23, 2022. 

“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,” he added. 

ExpressJet said a lack of aircraft, an inability to build passenger infrastructure in smaller airports, lower revenue, fuel prices and higher than expected costs were all factors in its decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and cease operations. It said it was also unable to implement hotel bundle offers, a key foundation of its ‘air, hotel, adventure’ strategy.  

The airline said passengers should contact their credit card company for refunds and said it would be unable to offer alternative travel arrangements.  


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