New regional airline Aha! unveils first 8 routes, launch details
It's been a busy year already for the U.S. airline industry.
Two new startups, Avelo Airlines and Breeze Airways, launched earlier this year and are already flying. Now a third entrant is gearing up for a splashy launch. Aha!, the leisure brand of long-time operator ExpressJet Airlines, will commence operations on Oct. 24, with eight routes from its new Reno-Tahoe base in Nevada.
Aha! is ExpressJet's latest venture. Founded in 1986, ExpressJet has a long history of operating regional jets between small- and mid-sized cities. It was even owned by Continental Airlines for some time, and most recently flew exclusively on behalf of United Express in mid-2020.
Due to the pandemic, however, United ended its contract with ExpressJet and the carrier ceased operations — and now, the airline is officially back with a new name and strategy.
Aha! stands for "air, hotel, adventure," and the new airline is designed to bring leisure travelers to its Reno base from "underserved" markets along the West Coast. Reno is known for its casino resorts, dining and year-round outdoor activities — including nearby Lake Tahoe — and Aha! is hoping to turn its first hub into an easily accessible destination from points in California, Oregon and Washington.
As you might expect, the airline will deploy the 50-seat Embraer 145 regional jet — the same plane type that it flew for United Express — on its routes. The plane is outfitted in a 1-2 all-coach arrangement.
One-way fares begin at $49, and ancillary options including seats and bags are available for an additional fee ranging from $10 to $100. The full list of eight new routes is below. Flights can be booked on www.flyaha.com or through the airline's call center at 775-439-0888.
The airline's inaugural is scheduled for Oct. 24 from Reno to Pasco/Tri-Cities, Washington, on Flight 7082, departing at 2:05 p.m. local time.
While the airline is launching with just eight markets, it has plans to expand to more than 20 cities in the coming months.
Interestingly, Aha! and Avelo Airlines share a similar launch strategy. Avelo began with one hub in Burbank on the West Coast and has since expanded with more routes and a new base in New Haven, Connecticut, on the East Coast.
Aha! hasn't tipped its hat at what its growth plans might look like, but it'll be interesting to follow whether it expands with more routes from Reno, adds a new hub city or a mix of both.
Aha! launch routes
|Pasco/Tri-Cities, Washington (PSC)||10/24/21|
|Bakersfield, California (BFL)||10/25/21|
|Medford/Ashland, Oregon (MFR)||10/31/21|
|Eugene/Springfield, Oregon (EUG)||11/1/21|
|Ontario, California (ONT)||11/4/21|
|Redmond/Bend, Oregon (RDM)||11/5/21|
|Eureka/Arcata, California (ACV)||11/9/21|
|Fresno, California (FAT)||11/10/21|
Editor's note: This post was updated to correct information regarding the location of Aha!'s Reno base.