ATA Airlines Shuts Down

ATA Airlines has bellied up, shutting down operations, canceling all its flights and leaving passengers holding their bags. Literally.

On its Web site, the airline advises:

ATA customers who purchased tickets using a credit card should contact their credit card company or travel agency directly for information about how to obtain a refund for unused tickets.

Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s pretty much what Aloha Airlines said when it closed up shop Monday. If you’re holding a ticket, call your credit card company and dispute that charge RIGHT NOW. (Marketwatch has some good tips on dealing with this.)

Paid cash? Good luck with the bankruptcy court.

ATA flew about 50 flights a day, mainly between Hawaii and the West Coast, and carried passengers on a code share with Southwest Airlines. That means many of its passengers are stranded right now in Hawaii, struggling to find an airplane seat off the island, not an easy task in the aftermath of Aloha’s collapse.

There are worse places to be stuck, but stuck is still stuck. And it’s not as if Southwest can fly the passengers home. Its 737s don’t have the range to make flights between Hawaii and the mainland.

ATA was flying some longer-range 737s and some larger aircraft to Hawaii. It also had two of the only remaining L-1011s in passenger service (my favorites, sniff).

Its demise is going to put more pressure on airfares to Hawaii. Even after the stranded passenger backlog is cleared out and the other airlines expand (Hawaiian is working on more routes to the mainland) it’s unlikely the seat inventory will be fully restored any time soon. These long-haul flights are fuel hogs, and that’s not an inviting proposition for any airline right now.

And it’s unlikely, too, that the airline collapses are over.


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