In general, the renaming of a regional airline isn’t a very interesting thing. After all, travelers never buy tickets to fly on that specific airline. Instead, they buy tickets from the mainline airline, which then contracts for the regional carrier to do the flying. Many travelers won’t even know which airline they are flying on. But in the case of the ASA-ExpressJet merger, the renaming turned into a saga that was a fun story to watch. And now we finally have resolution using a very familiar name.
In short, here’s what happened:
Now for the long story.
ExpressJet is best known for being the main provider of Continental Express service. The airline was owned by Continental but after it was spun off, it started trying to find its own way. You probably remember its 2007 effort to start point-to-point flying between smaller markets. That failed for a variety of reasons, but I still liked the idea.
The end of the road came when SkyWest decided to buy ExpressJet and merge it with its Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) subsidiary.
The new combined management got to work on picking a name for the new
airline, and the result was a disaster. In July, it was announced that the new name would be SureJet.
SureJet? It had the ring of a consulting project gone wrong. The press release made it sound like the management team was trying to be inclusive in the naming process, but it forgot to actually check to see if the name sounded good on it own.
“SureJet” was developed using front-line employee feedback about qualities and characteristics such as assurance, reliability and trustworthiness. . .
All great things, but instead of actually just running a great airline, the company decided it needed to have a name that reflected it. It really came off as an airline trying to convince itself and its partners that it was a reliable airline, whether it was or not.
Less than week later, the name was shelved for good reason. Everyone hated it. In fact, the company was very up front about it.
Since the announcement, we have heard significant concerns from team members about the name SureJet, and it appears we’ve missed our mark.
And that was that. Fast forward to last week, and a new, or shall I say old, name resurfaced. The combined airline will now be known as . . . ExpressJet.
Atlantic Southeast dates back to 1979 when it started flying for Delta regionally with props, and it’s seemingly had an identity crisis at many different points. Since the early days, it was closely tied with Delta when it flew solely for the airline.
In 1999, Delta even bought the airline and held it until it sold in 2005 to SkyWest. The airline had fluctuated between the Atlantic Southeast and ASA names for years. To me, it was never a strong moniker.
ExpressJet certainly started off tied at the hip with Continental as Continental Express, but it moved away from that under the ExpressJet name as a newly-independent airline. The ExpressJet name defines the airline and its role well. It makes sense to just keep that name instead of creating a new one.
Management isn’t completely leaving ASA out in the cold. It’s keeping the logo and branding from ASA (in the few places where branding exists for regionals), just changing the name on it.
This doesn’t always work, but in this case, it seems like a good fit. And management looks good for actually listening to the feedback and taking it to heart. Maybe they’ll also dial back on the consultants over there as well after this whole thing.