ATA’s at it again. Not the big Washington lobby, the Air Transport Association, but ATA the airline, once known as American Trans Air, is again leaving Chicago Midway Airport. This time, it’s probably for good. The carrier said the other day that it was ending all service at Chicago Midway by June. Someone you know discussed this with Chicago's National Public Radio station. The airline had said at the time of its October 2004 bankruptcy restructuring - which eventually made it a partner to Southwest - that it would pull out of Midway. It stayed on, in large part to satisfy Southwest’s need for a code-share partner as the Dallas-based carrier expanded at Midway. Now, though it’s no half-way measure about Midway, and the carrier says that it will end its service between Chicago and both Oakland, California, and DFW on April 14 and halt its Midway service to Cancun and Guadalajara on June 7.
ATA was a known quantity in the Windy City and in fact it was ATA’s efforts starting in 1992 that helped make Midway the low-fare centre in the Second City. It had devoted two of its 12 Boeing 737-800s to Midway, and will shift them into its charter business. ATA gets much of its revenue from charters, many of them for the military; its domestic schedules will be limited to Hawaiian service from four cities – Oakland, plus Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles (LAX). But even that may not be forever. Back in January, ATA’s parent, Georgia-based Global Aero Logistics, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would “explore strategic opportunities for our scheduled service business, including network restructuring, international expansion, business combinations and partial or complete divestitures.”
Local media in Honolulu are reporting that ATA is considering ending its scheduled service into the Islands. The Star-Bulletin’s Dave Segal, a fine reporter, cites an internal memo from the ATA unit of the Association of Flight Attendants saying that ATA is seriously considering leaving Paradise. That could be good news for Hawaii’s two Honolulu-based carriers, Aloha and Hawaiian, and Aloha in particular. It flies 737-700s into Oakland and Las Vegas. Hawaiian flies larger planes into Phoenix, Las Vegas and LAX.
ATA has been chopping for some time and at the end of last year gave up coveted slots at Washington Reagan National and New York LaGuardia airports and ended its 10 daily flights between Midway and those two business destinations; the airline has even dropped service to its hometown of Indianapolis.