The Renaming Saga for ASA and ExpressJet Finally Has a Resolution

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:

ASA and ExpressJet Pick a Name

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.

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26 Responses to The Renaming Saga for ASA and ExpressJet Finally Has a Resolution

  1. Steve says:

    But which Operating Certificate (and call sign) will they be combining under? I’m hoping for Expressjet’s (Jetlink)

  2. Korry says:

    First it was “New Coke”. More recently, the shortlived Netflix disaster that was “Quickster”. These two examples along with the Surejet debacle continue to point out that when it comes to a company’s brand, the wisdom of crowds comes through again and again. Company’s don’t own their brands; their customers do!

    • I for one liked qwikster. However what was the point of Surejet? It just doesn’t seem to make sense to develop a new name and brand for a company that most consumers won’t see. The majors could care less what you name it, as long as its not CrashWeeklyAir.

  3. At least EpressJet doesn’t pin a carrier to a certain location like Atlantic Southeast did. Keep one carriers name and using the others at least can keep the workers at both companies happy as parts of each are kept. They must have learned something from UA/CO in that area.

  4. Sanjeev M says:

    I’m not sure but also ASA didn’t exactly have a great reputation for on-time service (probably due to being shoved around by DL in ATL).

    Wish them the best as the regional market is getting tough with high fuel.

  5. Eric says:

    Sad to see the ASA name go (as someone who grew up in ATL) but that is industry life today.

    FYI: ASA was founded by 3 former Southern Airways execs to back-fill old SO communities that were abandoned by post-merger (SO/NC) Republic. It flew as an indie regional (remember those?) from its founding to 1984, when it was the founding member of the DL Connection program.

  6. Rick says:

    ExpressJet with ASA “logo” is very universal. Great article?thanks.

  7. Bob K. says:

    Any idea which consultancy f’d up the name change? Hope it wasn’t the guys I used ro work for…

  8. There’s an old bromide that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

  9. Oliver says:

    So… if the whole thing is owned by Skywest, why not call it that… Skywest?

    • Because there is another airline already called Skywest. SkyWest, Inc. owns SkyWest Airlines, Atlantic Southeast Airlines. In turn, Atlantic Southeast Airlines owns ExpressJet.

      Its not uncommon for this situation to exist. Alaska Air Group owns Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines. US Airways Group owns US Airways, PSA Airlines, and Piedmont Airlines. (These are the names of former carriers that US Air merged with, but they’re carriers in their own right.) Its not an uncommon arrangement for a major to own one more more of their express carriers.

      • chris says:

        SkyWest owns Atlantic Southeast Airlines, AND ExpressJet, asa does not own expressjet, skywest bought expressjet and decided to merge the two, in no way did asa purchase or do they own expressjet.

    • XJT/ASA DX says:

      While Skywest was taken, Skyeast could have worked. Sure it’s specifies a region but if it worked for big brother there’s no reason it couldn’t work for another mostly-east-coast subsidiary.

    • CF says:

      My understanding is that it’s a union thing. SkyWest is non-union while ASA and ExpressJet are largely union, so they thought they’d keep like-minded airlines together.

  10. Ed Kelty says:

    Express Jet may be fine, but it sounds like an air-taxi service or a membership executive service operation.

    Yes, Atlantic Southeast had a bad reputation for reliability, so some change was in order.

  11. @Chris the press release of the merger http://inc.skywest.com/invest/investor_releases/XJTAnnounceFinal8.2.10.pdf agrees with my description. ASA owns ExpressJet.

  12. Deez Nuts says:

    U are an outsider an don’t no the real deal. Skywest bought xjt than merger them with Asa. I work for them so I no the real deal

    • I’m quite sure that the press release was correct, if not SkyWest would be in deep trouble with the SEC. That being said, yeah I XJet and ASA were merged after the fact.

      You’re right, I’m an outsider, but at least I can proofread…

      • Deez Nuts says:

        I have no problem with reading but being someone who’s works for the company an knows the truth abouth how it. Skywest inc owns both skywest and Asa so there would be no way they could get in trouble with the sec. Read below.

    • Deez Nuts says:

      ExpressJet (XJT) announced that its stockholders voted to adopt and approve the merger agreement between SkyWest (SKYW) and ExpressJet Holdings at a special meeting. On August 4, ExpressJet and SkyWest announced that they entered into a definitive merger agreement whereby SkyWest will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of ExpressJet for $6.75 per share in cash subject to the conditions of the definitive merger agreement.  SkyWest advised that its intention is that ExpressJet Airlines will be merged with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, following the closing of the transaction and receipt of all required regulatory approvals.  The merger is currently expected to close on November 12. :theflyonthewall.com

      • From the press release linked above:
        “SkyWest, Inc. (NASDAQ:SKYW) (“SkyWest”) announced today that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with ExpressJet Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: XJT)(“ExpressJet”), whereby Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Inc., SkyWest’s wholly-owned subsidiary (“Atlantic Southeast”), will acquire all of the outstanding shares of common stock of ExpressJet Holdings, Inc. (“ExpressJet”) for $6.75 per share in cash, representing a net purchase price of approximately $133 million after giving effect for shares already owned by Atlantic Southeast. ”

        I trust the press release over any other site or source.

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