The Incredible Shrinking ATA

Remember when ATA was considered a “major” carrier with over $1b in annual revenue? It seems like so long ago now. They had a nice operation at Chicago/Midway and they had Indianapolis, Hawai’i, etc. Now, they’ve got just about nothing after announcing that they’re completely shutting down the remains of their Midway operation.

08_03_12 tzl1011It was only about 4 years ago or so that airlines started fighting over who would bring ATA out of bankruptcy. America West was interested in establishing a Chicago hub as was AirTran. But in the end Southwest won the race to help the airline out. They took just about everything ATA had and made the airline a puppet for entering congested airports, serving overwater destinations, and serving the international world. A codeshare was set up, and everything seemed to be ok.

They’ve been shrinking ever since. There were a handful of routes started up to try to feed Southwest. Routes like Houston/Hobby to New York/La Guardia failed miserably and disappeared. Denver came online, but when Southwest entered the market, ATA walked away. Late last year, ATA announced it would be pulling out of Washington/National and New York/La Guardia altogether. Apparently the Southwest name wasn’t enough to make the flights pan out.

But there was still hope for the airline to become the international feeder for Southwest. They had a nice and easy customs and border patrol facility at Midway that served places like Guadalajara. As of June 7, all of that will end as well.

What’s left? Almost nothing. They still have their 80 flights to Hawai’i per week:

Las Vegas – Honolulu (daily)
Los Angeles – Honolulu (twice daily)
Los Angeles – Maui (daily)

Oakland – Hilo (6 times a week)
Oakland – Honolulu (twice daily)
Oakland – Lihue (4 times a week)
Oakland – Maui (twice daily)

Phoenix – Honolulu (daily)
Phoenix – Maui (daily)

And that’s all that feeds Southwest. Presumably the problem of a 5 hour overwater flight is not something Southwest wants to tackle on its own yet, at least not with the aircraft they have, but you have to assume it’s coming eventually.

ATA is starting to do some Latin flying from Miami to Guatemala City and San Jose, Costa Rica (both daily), but that looks to be run in conjunction with USALatinSky, so it’s not really their own scheduled service (I think).

And that’s it. The rest of the airline has gone back to its charter routes, and that’s probably where all the focus will be in the future. You’ll still see ATA airplanes around, but it probably won’t be a on scheduled basis for the most part. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hawai’i go away at some point as well, especially as fuel prices start to climb and charter flights look better and better on the bottom line.

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