Aha!, ExpressJet’s New Reno-Tahoe Based Airline

ExpressJet, a regional airline, ceased operations in 2020. We learned a few weeks ago that ExpressJet, a regional airline based in Reno, was closing its doors. The airline, now called aha, has launched operations since October and announced two more routes. Let's recap everything you need to know so far about the airline.
ExpressJet's history

ExpressJet, a regional airline based in the United States, was founded in the mid-1980s. The airline was originally owned by Continental Airlines. However, that ownership has changed over the years. ExpressJet was most recently operated for United Express, a regional airline of United Airlines.

In mid-2020, United Airlines decided to end its relationship with ExpressJet. Instead, the airline decided to merge all 50-seat regional operations of CommutAir, which is a rival to ExpressJet. United's regional operations were largely affected by the pandemic.

ExpressJet's sole customer was United Airlines, which caused the airline to go under. ExpressJet was not doomed to fail.

ExpressJet is now an independent airline.

ExpressJet is making its comeback as an independent airline called aha!

The aha! logo

Here's how the concept of aha! is described.

Aha! ExpressJet Airlines' leisure brand. aha! AHA! aims to offer travelers in smaller communities who have had their air service cut over the past decade due to airline mergers with short, nonstop flights to high quality destinations such as Reno-Lake Tahoe. Aha! also offers nonstop, low-cost flights. Soon, aha! will partner with resorts and casinos to offer value-priced vacation packages.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport is the base of the airline. It was designed to allow travelers to experience Reno-Tahoes regional bounty. This includes exciting casino resorts, live entertainment, and a variety of art and dining scenes.

ExpressJet was the same as ExpressJet. aha! flew 50-seat Embraer E145 aircraft.

Embraer E145 - aha! Livery and Seatmap

Where can aha! fly to Reno-Tahoe from Reno?

ExpressJet's new aha! leisure airline will be flying initially from Reno-Tahoe, (RNO), to 10 destinations as follows:

Pasco/Tri-Cities (WA) (PSC), October 24, 2021

Bakersfield (CA) (BFL) as of October 25, 2021

Medford/Ashland (OR) as of October 31, 2021

Eugene/Springfield (EUG), November 1, 2021

Ontario, CA (ONT) as of November 4, 2021

Redmond/Bend (OR) as of November 5, 2021

Eureka/Arcata (CA) as of November 9, 2021

Fresno (CA) (FAT) as of November 10, 2021

Spokane (WA) (GEG), December 15, 2021

Palm Springs, CA (PSP) as of January 3, 2021

These routes will initially be operated three times weekly.

Reno: aha! routemap

My thoughts on the new airline.

I'm not sure what to think of this. Here are some thoughts:

ExpressJet deserves praise for not giving up on United Airlines after it lost its contract, but instead trying something new as an independent airline.

We saw the launch of Avelo Airlines, Breeze Airways and other airlines earlier this year. All three airlines are committed to serving previously underserved markets. That's great news for consumers.

Startup aha! benefits from operating smaller planes than Avelo or Breeze. They are therefore easier to fill. However, the Embraer E145's per-seat operating cost is much higher than those of the other two carriers. This will present a challenge.

I'm curious to see how the business model of aha! evolves over time. The airline seems very committed to Reno Tahoe, so what other underserved markets could the airline discover?

I find the name of aha! so bizarre that it is hard to imagine an announcement for this airline. I hate the awkward grammar in writing this announcement for flight 237 from Reno

aha! flies Embraer regional jets

Bottom line

Reno-Tahoe International Airport has been opened to a new airline called aha!, which will initially fly to 10 destinations. ExpressJet is the regional airline that previously operated for United Express. The airline is now part of ExpressJet. United Airlines terminated its agreement with aha! on February 20, 2020, leaving the airline insolvent.

ExpressJet's reimagining of itself is a cool thing. But it's no surprise that this is an unusual one.

What do you think of the aha! model for business?

(Tip of my hat to @IshrionA