Aha! is the third new airline to launch in the United States in 2021.
The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the landscape of regional airlines, killing off some carriers and launching a trio of new ones. Yesterday, aha! airlines became the third new U.S. carrier to take flight this year with an eye to connect smaller, underserviced airports.
The new airline, whose name stands for “air hotel adventure,” launched with new nonstop service aboard 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 jets between Reno, Nevada and Pasco, Washington, where Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) is the largest airport serving southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon.
The route exemplifies aha!’s game plan of connecting smaller airports with its hub in Reno-Tahoe. Within the next three weeks, aha! is launching seven more nonstop routes between Reno and regional airports scattered throughout Oregon and California. In the coming months, aha! says it plans to expand to 20 western U.S. cities from Reno.
“For Pasco and the seven other communities, the new nonstop aha! flights to Reno-Tahoe eliminate the hassle of a long drive or multiple airport connections and layovers,” said Subodh Karnik, CEO of aha! parent company ExpressJet, a regional carrier which itself was nearly killed off during the pandemic. United Airlines, which owns a minority (49.9%) share in ExpressJet, cancelled the affiliate’s contract to fly as United Express in September 2020.
aha! offers new nonstop service to Reno-Tahoe from eight smaller western airports.
If successful, aha! could help resurrect the fortunes of ExpressJet, which unveiled its plans this spring to resume operations and “reinstate approximately 300 employees over an initial 12-month period and provide service to several underserved communities,” according to its filing with the Department of Transportation (DOT) in April 2021.
As a newcomer on the U.S. airlines scene, Aha! joins Avelo Airlines, which now offers service on both coasts, and Breeze Airways, which now services 16 airports and recently secured $200 million in funding. Like aha!, Avelo and Breeze are mainly focusing on connecting their hubs to smaller airports.
Aha! is offering an introductory fare of $49 each way until November 15, 2021. Travel must be completed by December 23, 2021. Flights can be booked online or by calling at 775-439-0888.
I watch trends in travel. Prior to working at Forbes, I was a longtime freelancer who contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel +
I watch trends in travel. Prior to working at Forbes, I was a longtime freelancer who contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure, Afar, Reader’s Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com and scores of other outlets. Follow me on Instagram (@suzannekelleher) and Flipboard (@SRKelleher).