American startup aha! Achieved 1,500th flight milestone
Leisure wearer, aha! – ExpressJet Airlines’ “air-hotel-adventure” brand should exceed 1,500 flights today.
With its flights operated by ExpressJet Airlines, the first flight of the American carrier aha! took place on October 24, 2021, from Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) in Nevada to Pasco/Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) in Washington.
The airline currently uses four Embraer ERJ145s operated by ExpressJet. The ch-aviation.com database shows that 50-seat aircraft have an average age of around 18 years.
ExpressJet is a merger of Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Continental Express, with a history dating back over 40 years.
ExpressJet does it again with aha!
ExpressJet took a big hit in 2020 when it lost the United Express contract. Photo: Getty Images
More recently, ExpressJet operated regional services for United Airlines under the United Express brand. Before losing the United Airlines contract in 2020, ExpressJet was the world’s largest operator of the Embraer ERJ145.
In the depths of COVID, United had its own issues to deal with and decided to consolidate all of its regional flights with one operator. Previously, routes were split between CommutAir and Express/Jet.
United decided to go with CommutAir for all regional routes, and with the contract went tile for the world’s largest ERJ145 operator.
ExpressJet flew its last flight for United Express on September 30, 2020, returned all 130 aircraft to United and ended operations. It was the end of an era for ExpressJet, but it bounced back as an operator behind the aha! brand.
aha’s offering is to provide travelers in small communities with convenient, nonstop flights to attractive recreational destinations, such as the Reno-Lake Tahoe area.
In particular, it wants to rebuild direct air links lost due to airline mergers or open new non-stop routes that are currently not served.
ah! is based at Reno-Tahoe Airport, from where it operates nonstop services to nine destinations. The Services are intended for the US states of California, Oregon and Washington.
Fresno/Yosemite, Ontario/Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Bakersfield are four well-known California destinations. In Washington, ha! serves Spokane and Pasco/Tri-Cities, while in Oregan it serves Eugene/Springfield, Redmond/Bend and Medford/Ashland.
The tenth road is home to Peanuts
From July 14, aha! will operate twice-weekly nonstop service between Reno/Tahoe and Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS). For the curious, Sonoma County Airport is named after the creator of the Peanuts cartoon, Charles M. Schulz, who lived in Santa Rosa for over 30 years. The airport logo depicts the main character, Snoopy, in World War I flying gear, sitting on his doghouse.
ah! flights are operated by ExpressJet using 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images
Flights will be Thursday and Sunday, departing Reno Tahoe International Airport at 3:40 p.m. and arriving in Sonoma at 4:37 p.m. The 57-minute round-trip flight departs Sonoma at 5:15 p.m.
Head of ExpressJet’s aha! Business unit Tim Sieber said the new route allows Sonoma residents to take spontaneous short trips to Reno and Lake Tahoe without airport layovers or driving. He added:
“And Reno travelers can use Santa Rosa as a jumping-off point for all there is to see, do, eat, drink, and explore in California’s wine country.”
ah! says its sweet spot is nonstop routes under 965 kilometers (600 miles) where the ERJ145’s economy works best and to airports with existing ground handling solutions.
He adds that he has identified about 25 such routes and will seek to serve them when the time comes.
Is there a place for a small operation like aha in the market, and can it run a reliable network with just four planes?
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