Thursday, April 3, 2008

ATA shuts down

Wow, Hawaii seems to be a bad place for Airlines these days (or a good one if you are still left). ATA has finally shut down. Back in 2004, Southwest kept the ATA brand alive by making an interesting deal that infused ATA with cash, warding off a buyout from AirTran. I'm not sure if AirTran is better off or not, but the Southwest/ATA deal seemed like it was just delaying the inevitable. It was a win for Southwest which got some needed gates at Midway, prevented a stronger competitor from encroaching on what is probably its best city, and got this domestic code-share agreement. ATA, on the other hand, got to stay alive, but had give up their best assets in exchange for a code share agreement. ATA flew to stations that Southwest didn't want to deal with (like DCA and HNL), but that were popular with travelers. It was a brilliant move by Southwest, but I have to give credit to AirTran by stepping away from the deal, rather than overpaying for an asset.
ATA had a bizarre fleet: 29 planes total, but 5 different plane types, including inexplicably, both a DC10 and an L1011? What was up with that. Why did ATA shut down so quickly? There's not much of value in the airline and they were bleeding money every day. There's apparently at least one exception, however. They had some folks taking pride in their work down in Hawaii, who apparently worked past the airline shutdown time to get the last flight back to the mainland off the ground.

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