Ah! Stop flying as ExpressJet goes into liquidation



    Stock code:

    Creation date :

    Francisco Gomes Neto

    Head office location:
    Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Key product lines:
    Embraer 170, Embraer 175, Embraer 190, Embraer 195, Embraer 175-E2, Embraer 190-E2, Embraer 195-E2

    Type of company:

Just months after losing the contract with United Airlines, Atlanta-based ExpressJet has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and aims to enter compulsory liquidation in the coming weeks. The bankruptcy filing means Aha!, a regional airline flying for ExpressJet, will clip its wings. A check on the website for Aha! reveals that he is temporarily unavailable, possibly permanently discontinued.

Mixed between several hands

ExpressJet began commercial operations in 1987 after Continental Airlines acquired a group of smaller commuter airlines including Britt Airways, Bar Habor Airlines and Rocky Mountain Air. In 2005, Continental Airlines decided to reduce ExpressJet’s fleet to approximately 69 aircraft, leading to ExpressJet’s decision to operate the aircraft independently.


The following year, ExpressJet began charter operations with flight services to 24 destinations before expanding with point-to-point services across the United States. Then, in 2007, the regional airline began flying on behalf of Delta Air Lines under the Delta Connection banner and provided feeder service for Frontier Airlines. But in 2008, ExpressJet virtually ceased all flight services due to soaring oil prices, which were estimated at $140 a barrel.

Troubled skies with United Airlines

The regional airline has since never resumed operations independently, but has continued to be split between several airlines such as Branson Air Express, Atlantic Southeast Airlines and American Airlines under the American Eagle banner. But perhaps the most notable contract ExpressJet ever had was with United Airlines, which began as a temporary opportunity to fly as a United Express carrier in June 2009 and ended in September of that year. .

A few months later, in December, another new contract was signed for ExpressJet to operate under United Express Carrier. And in late 2010, the regional carrier signed a multi-year agreement with United Airlines for more than 20 Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft flown in all United Express colors. United Airlines eventually began talks about a possible purchase of ExpressJet in 2017, which paid off in late 2018 when the regional airline was acquired by ManaAir, with KAir Enterprises as majority owner with 50.1% and United Airlines as minority owner with 49.9%.

United Airlines then supplied Embraer ERJ-175 aircraft to ExpressJet and reallocated more Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft to the regional airline’s fleet, making it the largest operator of ERJ-145 aircraft in the world. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused United Airlines to end its contract with ExpressJet and the international carrier transferred regional flight operations to another subsidiary, CommutAir. CommutAir would become the sole operator of the United Express Embraer ERJ-145 fleet.

Bad luck with Aha!

From becoming one of the largest regional operators to being out of contract, ExpressJet had to find ways to stay in business and relaunched with a standalone airline, known as Aha!, which stood for “air , hotel, adventure”. The newborn airline was launched late last year and operated using 50-seat Embraer E-145 jets to destinations across the west, and had just inaugurated new nonstop flight services between Idaho Falls and Reno-Tahoe on August 11.

Unfortunately, the experience with Aha! was not sufficient to generate the required revenue, given the difficulty of establishing passenger service infrastructure at small airports during post-pandemic times. Despite all his efforts and hoping that Aha! would be its saving grace, ExpressJet has reached the end of its line. ExpressJet CEO Subodh Karnik explains the decision saying:

“A combination of conditions led us to this decision. Despite the valiant efforts of our employees to overcome the challenges, and despite the great support of our cities and airports – especially Reno-Tahoe and the community – we have reached a point where halting operations was in the best interest of our stakeholders.”

Passengers who have already booked with Aha! were told to contact their banks for refunds, and ExpressJet said it could not help with other travel arrangements. It is sad to see ExpressJet go from being one of the most sought-after regional carriers and operating over 400 aircraft at its peak to experiencing Aha! and failed. Hopefully the liquidation process will see ExpressJet return to clearer skies.

Source: one mile at a time


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