Aloha ‘Oe, Aloha Airlines

You may remember that I said last week that I probably wouldn’t book a flight on Aloha for travel more than a couple weeks out. It looks like the airline won’t even make it that long.

Aloha has announced that, not surprisingly, there just aren’t any investors to help keep the passenger business afloat. Today, March 31, will be the last day of operation for all passenger flights. The interisland schedule will operate as normal today, and flights FROM the mainland will go as planned as well. Flights TO the mainland won’t operate, and neither will flights within the mainland. The cargo and airport services divisions will continue to operate since there has been interest from outside parties in acquiring those.

It doesn’t matter if you think we have too much capacity in this country or not. When an airline with such a long and storied history as Aloha goes out of business, it’s just a sad day.

I will always remember Aloha under better circumstances. This photo, though of a more recent “retrojet” scheme, reminds me of how the planes looked during my very early childhood visits to Hawai’i. (Much of my childhood saw this, less fun design.)
08_03_31 alohafunbird
Aloha (then called TPA – Trans-Pacific Airlines) started flying on July 26, 1946 with a war surplus C-47 (DC-3). At that time, it was hard for locals of Asian descent to succeed due to discrimination. Despite the odds being stacked against him, founder Ruddy Tongg was able to create a successful business that earned the nickname, The People’s Airline. Today will mark the end of nearly 62 years of passenger operation.

In a 1949 Time Magazine article, Mr Tongg was said to be “convinced there is room for two airlines in the air-minded Territory.” He was clearly correct. Sadly, there just wasn’t room for three.

When Mesa Airlines brought go! to the market, not many people I knew thought that three airlines could survive. Since go!’s inception, Mesa has lost a great deal of money with low load factors and even lower fares. Of course, since Mesa had deeper pockets than either Hawaiian or Aloha at the time, it could put its planes in there for the long haul and just wait for one of the local carriers to disappear. Since that time, Mesa’s financial strength has been eroded tremendously, but the airline was still able to outlast Aloha.

So, now one of Hawaii’s great airlines is gone, and so are scheduled passenger operations on the 737-200 aircraft in the US. If you had a ticket on Aloha, you’re out of luck. Contact your credit card company for a refund or you’ll have to file a claim with the bankruptcy court and hope you get anything back. (Don’t count on it.) If you need to travel between the islands, let me recommend a few airlines that can help.

Hawaiian – Flying between all the major airports in Hawai’i
Island Air – Flying primarily to smaller airports in Hawai’i
Pacific Wings – Also flying to smaller airports in Hawai’i on a less frequent basis

And yes, there’s go! as well, I suppose. No matter who you fly, the fares are likely to go up soon. Those ridiculously low fares that go! put in the market aren’t sustainable and never were. In fact, I’d be surprised if the airline can even make money at previous market fare levels with the CRJ. So, you may see fares go to levels even higher than before, assuming Hawaiian is willing.

As I mentioned above, Aloha will actually live on in a couple ways. The cargo business is still going to keep running as there have been interested parties in buying it. Also, the airport services operation will continue as well. That’s music to the ears of all major US airlines that contract with them to keep their planes running right now.

But, but most people know the airline for its passenger business, and that will end today after nearly 62 years of flying. Aloha ‘Oe, Aloha Airlines.

Edited 3/31 @ 9a to make it clear that the schedule will only operate today. After today, no passenger flights will operate.

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