Aloha: The Undead Airline?

If you can’t beat ‘em… kill ‘em, then reanimate their corpse as a corporate zombie. That appears to sum up the bizarre chain of events that will allow the much-maligned, Mesa-backed upstart go! Airlines to rebrand itself as Aloha Airlines.

Yes, the “intellectual property” of Aloha Airlines, a beloved interisland carrier that abruptly went out of business in March, will soon belong to Mesa Air, the Arizona-based company blamed for killing it.  It’s part of what’s emerging from the twisted labyrinth of wrangling by lawyers and creditors behind the late Aloha Airlines… the ghost of which still had a stake in a pending lawsuit against Mesa.

A brief recap: Both of Hawaii’s two legacy carriers, Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, were struggling with bankruptcy and financial woes. Mesa came calling, claiming to be interested in buying or taking a stake in the companies. Instead, Mesa launched its own low-cost interisland service: go! Airlines.  The resulting fare wars brought $19 tickets, even $1 tickets, protests, and an avalanche of criticism from residents who were loyal to the home team.

The battles were even fiercer in board rooms courtrooms, as both Hawaiian and Aloha alleged that Mesa illegally used the information it got as a potential investor to help go! Airlines get a foothold in the Hawaii market.

Hawaiian won its suit against Mesa, and it looked like the Aloha lawsuit was heading the same way.  Internal e-mails revealed that Mesa’s plan all along was to drive Aloha out of business. Unfortunately, Aloha folded before the lawsuit was settled. But Aloha’s creditors decided to keep the lawsuit alive, even when the airline wasn’t.

Well, according to the Star-Bulletin, Mesa is now settling the lawsuit by giving top Aloha creditor Yucaipa Co. $2 million, 10 percent of its stock, travel benefits to former Aloha employees, and buying the Aloha Airlines name at auction next week.

For people who still feel deep resentment against go! for killing Aloha, this development only adds more insult to injury. If the deal goes through, we’ll soon see “Aloha Airlines” in the sky. But it won’t be Aloha Airlines.

9 Responses

  1. lavasusan says:

    Oh, that’s just plain wrong of Mesa. Pick the bones of the corpse they helped to kill, why don’t they?

  2. mel says:

    The spoils of war go to the highest bidder in this case. Everyone knows the “new” Aloha Airlines will not be the same of years gone by even though they may look and sound like Aloha.

    Still you have to give Mesa credit for making interisland air travel affordable for many people in the years 2006 – early 2008. A 3-way air war is good for budget minded people and families no matter what airline they are on.

    Even Ryan and his family benefited from the low fares during the fare war by flying on Hawaiian and Go. I certainly did. Flew Hawaiian. Go and Aloha… whoever had the cheapest fare and the most convenient time.

    A three airline interisland market is good for the consumer. The airlines want to lower fares, let them go for it.

  3. Aloha 'Aina says:

    Unbelievable.

    I agree that we need competition, but the outcomes of Mesa’s “business plans” have to be questioned. Driving competition out of the market with unsustainable prices helps no one – except for the few who travel during the price war. What happens afterwards? Prices skyrocket.

    Additionally, you have to look at the realities of interisland transportation. This is an industry that’s always been subsidized by transpac revenue. Without that help (and the help of Sen. Dan) can any of these airlines survive an extended fare war.

  4. Mario says:

    what a shame .,..But thats Mesa…just want to mess up the minds of the traveler..anything that they can dig up and make it to their advantage thats how they do business I guess

  5. Dave says:

    Brilliant! :^)

    Following the same logic… Mark David Chapman should change his name to John Lennon and then go on tour singing Beatles songs!

  6. Olin says:

    I blogged about Go/Hawaiian/Aloha earlier this year – http://www.kanuhawaii.org/today/article/?id=1205455289813345 – didn’t see this move coming.

  1. November 30, 2008

    […] Ryan Ozawa wrote up an excellent blog entry about Mesa Airlines using Aloha Airline’s intellectual property.I share Ryan’s outrage […]

  2. December 6, 2008

    […] A tie.  First, laurelle commenting on my blog calling go!  “No Aloha Airlines.”  Second, Dave commenting on the Hawaii Blog:  Following the same logic… Mark David Chapman should change his name to John Lennon and then go […]

  3. January 5, 2010

    […] their most shameful action was their attempt to buy the defunct Aloha Airlines intellectual assets. The latter was an example of capitalism at its worst. Possibly related posts: (automatically […]

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