- Air-hotel-adventure, or Aha! for short, has filed bankruptcy and ceased operations less than a year after launching.
- The airline was run by former regional carrier ExpressJet Airlines that collapsed during the pandemic.
- CEO Subodh Karnik blamed high fuel prices and aircraft availability, among other reasons, for Aha!'s demise.
Air-hotel-adventure, or more simply, Aha!, is closing its doors just 10 months after launching its inaugural flight the company announced on Tuesday.
Reno-based Aha!, owned by former regional carrier ExpressJet Airlines, announced it is ceasing operations after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The decision, which is effective immediately, comes a month after Tim Sieber, who heads Aha!, called the carrier "one of the fastest growing regional airlines in the Western US" in a July 2022 press release.
However, Aha!'s expansion was cut short due to a myriad of reasons, including low aircraft availability, high fuel prices, COVID-19-related revenue challenges, and the inability to offer hotel and flight packages, reported The Points Guy.
"A combination of conditions led us to this decision," ExpressJet CEO Subodh Karnik said in a statement in a Tuesday press release. "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."
Aha! did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Aha! was a pandemic-era creation after its parent company, ExpressJet, ceased operations on September 30, 2020, due to COVID-related challenges. At its peak, ExpressJet was one of the US' largest regional airlines flying over 450 aircraft on behalf of Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines. However, the carrier only flew for United at the time of its collapse, but that contract was given to rival CommutAir at the start of the pandemic.
A year after closing its doors, ExpressJet announced a brand new airline known as Aha! that would operate Embraer 145 jets to connect small airports in a point-to-point network. The 50-seater planes would be the carrier's workhorse, shuttling passengers from its base at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada to 11 cities on the West Coast, like Redmond, Oregon, and Fresno, California.
While the airline revealed a near-perfect operating month in July 2022 with no cancellations and a 95.6% on-time arrival rate, the celebration was short-lived. According to Aha!'s website, customers with a ticket for travel after August 22 must contact their credit card company for a refund.
Regional flying has become a common casualty of the pandemic. High fuel prices, as Aha! noted, paired with low demand and the pilot shortage, makes flying regional routes more difficult for operators, with United, American, and Delta all cutting regional flying in the past two years.