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DALLAS – ExpressJet Airlines (EV), the parent company of low-cost regional airline Aha!, has filed for bankruptcy and ceased all operations.
The airline cites the difficulty in sourcing aircraft, lower revenues due to COVID-19, and rising costs as the three main reasons for the bankruptcy.
Founded in 1987, ExpressJet, the once-leading regional titan, had previously operated contracted codeshare flights under American Eagle, Delta Connection, and most recently, United Express brands.
After losing its contract with UA to operate United Express flights, the airline created the aha! brand, which began operations on September 30, 2021.
The airline’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Subodh Karnik, said, “A combination of conditions led us to this decision. 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.”
ExpressJet’s Rise and Fall
At its peak, EV operated almost 450 aircraft and had been a rising star among regional airlines in the U.S.
In July of 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United Airlines (UA) decided to end its contract with EV and continue operations instead with CommutAir, another United Express affiliate.
ExpressJet Airlines announced that it would operate its last flight on behalf of United Express on September 30, 2020, and subsequently closed its maintenance bases at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE).
The shut down of EV left approximately 3,000 employees without jobs, a significant casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the aviation industry.
In Comes Aha!
Almost exactly a year after ceasing operations under the United Express brand, EV launched the aha! brand, which stands for air, hotel, adventure, a creative attempt at reviving its operations with a modern spin.
The airline operated three ERJ-145 aircraft from Reno-Tahoe International Airport to 11 destinations in the Northwest region of the U.S.
Just three weeks ago, the airline reported a record 100 percent completion rate of its flights in July, but the conditions of the aviation industry proved too fierce for the airline to continue operations.
Featured image: Full-length picture of ERJ145 in new ExpressJet Airlines LLC livery. Photo: JetLinkAviator – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0