Aug. 24 — Aha Airlines, which launched a nonstop route between its hub at Reno-Tahoe International Airport and Santa Rosa last month, has stopped its service and filed for bankruptcy.
The airline and its parent company ExpressJet of College Park, Georgia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday and ceased all operations.
“We regret that a combination of market and economic conditions lead us to take this action,” the airline wrote on its website.
Aha started flying from Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport on July 14 with service to Reno. The flights were on Thursdays and Sundays with passengers traveling on board a 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 regional jet.
Airport data showed the 12 Aha flights in July for inbound and outbound service from the Santa Rosa airport had a 40% occupancy level.
“It did catch us by surprise, (we) didn’t realize they were having that many problems. They knew they were not growing at the speed they wanted to get to the scale they needed,” said Jon Stout, airport manager.
The Aha bankruptcy comes after United Airlines announced plans last month to indefinitely suspend service out of the Santa Rosa airport as of Nov. 1 as the carrier cited pilot shortages for the decision. In addition, both American and Alaska airlines in the near future will slightly reduce their service out of Santa Rosa as the industry copes with the twin challenges of fuel surcharges and staffing concerns, Stout said.
“All of our partners are having issues this fall,” he said.
American Airlines will go from two to one daily round-trip flight from Phoenix in September while Alaska, which is the largest carrier at the airport, will reduce various routes for its six West Coast destinations out of Santa Rosa, he said.
The airport expects a 20% reduction in overall flights this fall from which it had originally forecasted only three months ago, when officials anticipated 21 daily flights by October. The airport now ranges between 11 to 16 flights daily, Stout said.
Despite the recent bad news, the airport has experienced a post-pandemic increase in passengers.
The airport had 61,099 overall passengers through July, which represents an almost 25% increase from the same time period through 2021. That level even surpasses the 2019 rate of 50,625 of passengers through July, which was the highest traffic number at the airport through the first seven months of any calendar year.
The airport is on schedule to open its new terminal on Nov. 1, which will also include new baggage claim and rental car areas as well as a wine bar along with an outside patio.
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