Los Angeles, CA – The final Aloha Airlines flights to California will land tonight, as the airline prepares for a bankruptcy-induced shutdown.
United Airlines and other carriers scrambled today to accommodate passengers stranded by the sudden shutdown of passenger services by Aloha, the largest locally-owned air carrier in the Hawaiian islands.
“This is an incredibly dark day for Hawaii,” said David A. Banmiller, Aloha’s president and chief executive officer in a news statement. “Despite the groundswell of support from the community and our elected officials, we simply ran out of time to find a qualified buyer or secure continued financing for our passenger business.”
The company has been engaged in a bruising fare war with Go! Airlines, a subsidiary of the Phoenix-based Mesa Airlines that moved into the island market with cut-rate fares two years ago. The Hawaiian legislature had been struggling to come up with a loan package to keep Aloha aloft.
Calls to Mesa Airlines headquarters in Phoenix were not answered Sunday.
One Aloha flight from Honolulu was scheduled to land at 8:40 tonight at John Wayne. A flight from Maui was scheduled to land at San Diego at 10:15, followed by a flight from Kauai at 11:38, the airport’s Web pages said.
Aloha Airlines had already ceased flying to Los Angeles International Airport, and maintained just a small number of daily flights to John Wayne, as well as San Diego, Sacramento and Oakland.
Aloha said today it will operate its normal schedule on Monday with the exception of flights from Hawaii to the West Coast. Flights from Orange County to Reno and Sacramento are also cancelled permanently, but the company did not specifically say if outgoing flights from San Diego and Orange County to Hawaii will fly.
Air freight operations are being sold to another company and will continue, but with some disruptions.
The airline said all ticketholders will get a full refund, or may have their tickets honored by other carriers.
United Airlines is the largest carrier between the islands and the mainland, and shares ticketing codes and some flight numbers with the stricken Honolulu-based carrier. And United will honor Aloha tickets if they were purchased through “code share” or frequent flyer programs, said Chicago-based United spokeswoman spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.
“We are also offering discounts for people who need last-minute tickets to get home,” Urbanski said. “Normally last-minute tickets are very expensive. We will waive most of those fees. Last-minute tickets may be priced as low as discounted tickets.”
United does not offer flights from John Wayne Airport to Hawaii, Urbanski said. The only California airports United uses for Hawaii flights are LAX and San Francisco International, Urbanski said.
At John Wayne near Costa Mesa, spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said the airport was caught by the surprise announcement. “I actually just received notice they will cease services tomorrow,” John Wayne Airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge said at 3:20 p.m.
“Like 10 minutes ago I heard about this,” she said. “I don’t know when their last flight is but I will try to find out.”
The shutdown of Aloha’s passenger operations will affect about 1,900 employees, the airline president said in Honolulu.
“We had no choice but to take this action,” Banmiller said. “We deeply regret the impact this will have on our dedicated employees who have made Aloha one of the best operating airlines in the country.”
The company was founded in 1946, and its president blamed “unfair competition (for) driving us out of business, bringing to an end a 61-year-old company with a proud legacy of serving millions of travelers in the true spirit of Aloha.”
KNX 1070 News