Capital Markets

Say Aloha to Aloha, Its Financing Dried Up

Interisland and transpacific carrier, unable to sell itself and hammered by competition, closes passenger operations and works to sell cargo business.
Stephen TaubMarch 31, 2008

In deciding to close its passenger operations, interisland carrier Aloha Airlines blamed its own “aloha” — as in farewell — on its recent inability to win the needed financing, or find a buyer.

Air cargo and aviation services units will continue to operate as usual while the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeks bids from potential buyers, the airline said. But it shut down both its island-hopping and transpacific passenger flight operations on Monday.

Last week, Saltchuk Resources Inc. announced its intention to buy Aloha’s air cargo business.

“We simply ran out of time to find a qualified buyer or secure continued financing for our passenger business” said David A. Banmiller, Aloha’s president and chief executive officer. “We had no choice but to take this action.”

Two weeks ago, Aloha Airgroup Inc., the parent of Aloha Airlines, filed again for Chapter 11 protection, slightly more than two years after its previous bankruptcy filing. This time, it blamed a price war with Mesa Air Group’s Go airline for the inability to generate sufficient revenues from its interisland passenger business. The Hawaii-based Aloha said that it had been forced to match Go’s “below-cost fares” at a time when the airline industry was facing “unprecedented increases” in the cost of jet fuel, which has meant an annual increase of $71 million in fuel expenses.

Other airlines hurt by the surging price of jet fuel are trying desperately to come up with a plan to fly smoothly. Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines are reported to be discussing the possibility of merging, for example. Few carriers, however, have the limited market — and vulnerability to competition on its routes — of an Aloha Airlines.