Bad news if you need to travel to one of America’s smaller airports. Insider reports regional airline company Aha! has declared bankruptcy and shut down. The move comes less than a year after the airline launched, and just over a month after it was called the “fastest growing regional airline in the western US.”
Aha! was born of the pandemic. After ExpressJet, one of the oldest regional airlines in the country, filed for bankruptcy in the fall of 2020, Aha! was founded out of its ashes just over a year later.
Using small, 50-seat Embraer planes, the airline connected smaller regional airports in the western US for point-to-point travel. If you needed to get somewhere like Bakersfield (god only knows why someone would need to fly into Bakersfield) or Eugene, Oregon, Aha! was your airline.
But ongoing global issues rang the death knell for the company. In a prepared statement, CEO Subodh Karnik said a “combination of conditions” led to the airline filing for bankruptcy and ceasing operations immediately. Among them: rising fuel costs, a lack of aircraft availability and a pilot shortage. “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,” Karnik said in a statement.
Insider points out that smaller regional airlines have been hit hard by the pandemic. A lack of demand has driven down profits and caused many small operators to close up shop.