ExpressJet Ceases Operations, Plans Liquidation

Credit: ExpressJet

ExpressJet Airlines, citing a “combination of market and economic conditions,” filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy Aug. 22 and is planning a court-supervised liquidation, the company announced.  

The move means the end for aha!, the company’s Reno, Nevada-based scheduled carrier, as well as its ad-hoc charter work. All ExpressJet flight operations ceased with the filing, the company said. 

“A combination of conditions led us to this decision,” CEO Subodh Karnik said in a statement. “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.” 

Among the factors cited for shutting the business down—a lack of available aircraft and “the inability to swiftly establish passenger servicing infrastructure in smaller airports,” ExpressJet said. Aha! focused on serving secondary and leisure destinations in the western U.S. with a few weekly frequencies, setting up operations in cities such as Bakersfield, California; Medford, Oregon; and Pasco, Washington. 

Rising operational costs also contributed, taking “an unexpected toll on finances,” the carrier said. 

“Customers should contact their credit card company to request refunds. Unfortunately, ExpressJet is unable to assist with alternate travel arrangements,” the airline said. “The company expects to enter into an orderly court-supervised liquidation in the coming weeks.”  

It was not immediately clear why Georgia-based ExpressJet opted for a Chapter 11 filing, which typically sets the stage for a reorganization, and not a Chapter 7 filing, which involves converting assets to cash to pay debts. 

Launched in October 2021, aha! quickly expanded to 11 total cities and was eyeing at least 15 more. The airline added its newest station, Idaho Falls, on Aug. 11.  

The airline had a fleet of four leased 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145s, Aviation Week Fleet Discovery shows. 

Started in 1986 when Continental Airlines combined several smaller operators, ExpressJet served various mainline partners for 33 years. In 2020, amid the COVID-19-triggered travel downturn, the carrier lost its final link to a major partner when United Airlines consolidated its ERJ-145 flying with another operator. ExpressJet ceased operations and plotted its next move, which turned out to be aha!. 



Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.