ExpressJet Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & Ceases All Flight Ops

LONDON – On August 23, it was announced that the U.S. regional carrier, ExpressJet, which has been operating as Aha!, has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection as well as ceasing all flight operations.

ExpressJet Ceases Ops


The Atlanta-based operator, ExpressJet, has, unfortunately, had to cease operations after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in Delaware after a very short life span.

ExpressJet had been operating as Aha! Travel Management Company since it began operations less than one year ago in late-October 2021, however, ExpressJet itself has been around since 1986, when they began operating many regional services for three of the U.S.

‘Big Four’ carriers. These operational agreements fell under American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express, all of which are the regional subsidiaries of three of the U.S. ‘Big Four’ airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.

ExpressJet had operated these services for 33 years until September 2020, when the carrier exited its last agreement after its final contract conclusion with United Airlines for United Express.

Then, one year later, ExpressJet resurfaced under its own brand as what we now know as Aha!, which is short for Air-Hotel-Adventure.

Aha! was based out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) in Nevada on the West Coast of the U.S. and had a fleet of just five Embraer E145s operating across 10 destinations as well as charter services, of which all five of its aircraft had 50 economy class seats.

However, during its peak, ExpressJet had once operated over 450 aircraft during its time running regional services for American, Delta, and United.

Those 10 destinations out of Reno were:

  • Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) in Fresno, California.
  • Ontario International Airport (ONT) in Ontario, San Bernardino County, California.
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) in Palm Springs, California.
  • Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) in Santa Rosa, California.
  • Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
  • Eugene Airport (EUG) in Eugene, Oregon.
  • Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR) in Medford, Oregon.
  • Roberts Field (RDM) in Redmond, Oregon.
  • Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) in Pasco, Washington.
  • Spokane International Airport (GEG) in Spokane, Washington.

The main reasons that ExpressJet has decided to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection as well as ceasing all operations is due to three main points.

The first of which was growth, this was a major element of the company’s business plan, which was significantly hampered because of the lack of aircraft availability, as well as the inability to establish infrastructure at smaller airports to support passenger density.

The second point was mainly hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which certainly hurt the company’s cash flow and revenue streams, however, as well as the pandemic, the company had failed to secure hotel bundle offers that it was planning to provide as part of its service for passengers, in line with the company’s foundation plans of Air-Hotel-Adventure.

Finally, the third point was similar to many other airlines, which was the insane increase in fuel prices and other operational expenses, which drove the company’s finances further into a hole that, unfortunately, they could not escape from.

Commenting on the cease of the company, ExpressJet’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Subodh Karnik, has 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.”

As such, with all of this and in line with its Chapter 11 filing, ExpressJet is expecting to be liquidated in the coming weeks through the U.S. Court.

Overall


Seeing yet another airline, especially one that was once majorly significant to the U.S. aviation industry for many years, bite the dust in the wake of the Covid pandemic is yet another stake in the ground showing how challenging the industry is for many of the world’s airlines, and not just the U.S. itself.

Hopefully, ExpressJet’s former employees will find new work within the industry so that they can continue living their lives as they plan to, however, this will certainly be a difficult hurdle for many to overcome.

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Jamie Clarke

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