Aloha Airlines was an American airline headquartered in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii,[1] operating from a hub at Honolulu International Airport. Operations began on July 26, 1946, and ceased on March 31, 2008.


Propeller eraEdit

The airline was founded as charter carrier Trans-Pacific Airlines by publisher Ruddy Tongg as a competitor to Hawaiian Airlines, commencing operations on July 26, 1946, with a single World War II-surplus Douglas C-47 (DC-3) on a flight from Honolulu to Maui and Hilo. The name reflected Tongg's vision of a trans-oceanic airline connecting California, Hawaii, and China. It soon earned the nickname "The Aloha Airline" and was flying four aircraft by the end of the year. Approval to operate as a scheduled airline came when President Harry S. Truman signed the certificate on February 21, 1949, with the first scheduled flight on June 6, 1949, following ceremonies held the previous day.

In 1952, the airline reported its first annual profit: $36,410.12. The airline's market share rose to 30% that year, up from 10% in 1950, the year the airline adopted the name TPA-The Aloha Airline. However, the introduction of the Convair 340 at Hawaiian Airlines halted further growth of TPA's market share for over five years. In 1958, real estate developer Hung Wo Ching, whose family held a sizable stake in the airline and following overtures by Tongg, was elected president of the airline. In November of that year, the company changed its name again, becoming Aloha Airlines. On April 15, 1959, Aloha took delivery of its first Fairchild F-27 turboprop aircraft. These aircraft were unique to Aloha, built with a stronger keel beam and thicker belly skin to satisfy concerns about ditching the high-wing aircraft. That summer, Aloha's market share jumped to 42%.

Jet engine eraEdit

File:BAC 1-11 215AU N11183 Aloha LBG 03.06.67 edited-2.jpg
File:Aloha Pacific McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 Groves.jpg

Aloha retired its last DC-3 on January 3, 1961, becoming the second airline in the United States to operate an all-turbine fleet. In 1963, the airline took delivery of two Vickers Viscounts from Austrian Airlines and soon acquired a third. Soon, the airline made the move to pure jets, with its first BAC One-Eleven arriving in Honolulu on April 16, 1966. The last F-27 was retired from service in June 1967. As Hawaiian Airlines took delivery of larger Douglas DC-9-30s, Aloha realized its smaller One-Elevens, which also took performance penalties in Kona, put it at a disadvantage. The airline went shopping and placed an order for two Boeing 737-200s in December. Named "Funbirds", the Boeing jets entered service on March 2, 1969. The massive capacity increase hurt both airlines, and in 1970, the first of three unsuccessful merger attempts between the two rivals (the others coming in 1988 and 2001) was made. In October 1971, the airline sold its remaining Viscounts and became an all-jet airline.

In 1983, Aloha introduced its AlohaPass frequent flyer program. In 1984, the airline leased a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, and on May 28, inaugurated service with the aircraft between Honolulu, Guam, and Taipei under the name Aloha Pacific. The operation, however, was unable to compete with Continental Airlines, and was discontinued on January 12, 1985. In October of that year, Aloha acquired Quick-Change 737 aircraft that could be quickly converted from a passenger configuration to all-cargo freighter for nighttime cargo flights. In February 1986, Aloha began weekly flights between Honolulu and Kiritimati (Christmas Island), becoming the first airline to operate ETOPS 737s.

In late 1986, Ching and vice-chairman Sheridan Ing announced plans to take the company private, and it remained in the hands of the Ing and Ching families until its emergence from bankruptcy in 2006, when additional investors including The Yucaipa Cos., Aloha Aviation Investment Group, and Aloha Hawaii Investors LLC took stakes in the airline. In 1987, the airline acquired Princeville Airways, renaming Aloha IslandAir, which became known as Island Air in 1995. In 2003, Island Air was sold to Gavarnie Holding and became an independent airline.

On February 14, 2000, the airline began mainland service, flying newly delivered Boeing 737-700s from Honolulu, Kahului, and Kona, Hawaii to Oakland. The carrier soon started regularly scheduled flights to and from Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, Reno, and Las Vegas. For a short time Aloha also offered flights from Honolulu to Vancouver.

Aloha Airline's longest inter-island route was 216 miles, while the shortest route was a mere 62 miles. Average travel distance per inter-island flight was 133 miles.Template:Citation needed Aloha also marketed some inter-island routes served by partner Island Air, and passengers earned miles in either its own frequent flyer program, AlohaPass, or in United Airlines' Mileage Plus program.[2][3][4]

Economic challengesEdit

Rising costs and an economic retraction in Japan put Aloha into a defensive position in the early 2000s, soon exacerbated by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the SARS panic of 2003, and soaring fuel prices. On December 30, 2004, Aloha Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an attempt to cut costs and remain competitive with other airlines serving Hawaii. Following approval of new labor contracts and securing additional investment from new investors, the airline emerged from bankruptcy protection on February 17, 2006. On August 30, 2006, Gordon Bethune was named Chairman of the Board.

Citing losses from a protracted fare war incited by inter-island competitor go! (operated by parent company Mesa Airlines) and high fuel prices, Aloha filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection again on March 20, 2008.[5] Ten days later, on March 30, 2008, Aloha Airlines announced the suspension of all scheduled passenger flights, with the final day of operation to be March 31, 2008.[6] The shutdown resulted in the layoffs of about 1,900 of the company's roughly 3,500 employees.[7] Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle asked the bankruptcy court involved to delay the shutdown of Aloha Airlines passenger services, and forcibly restore passenger service;[8] however, federal Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King declined, saying the court should not interfere with business decisions.[9]

After the shutdown of passenger operations, Aloha and its creditors sought to auction off its profitable cargo and contract services division. Pacific Air Cargo emerged as the highest bidder for the contract services division; the sale of the division to Pacific Air Cargo is currently in progress.[10] Pacific Air Cargo will operate the division under the name Aloha Contract Services.[11]

Several companies expressed interest in purchasing Aloha's cargo division, including Seattle-based Saltchuk Resources, California-based Castle & Cooke Aviation, and Hawaii-based Kahala Capital (which included Richard Ing, a minority investor in the Aloha Air Group and member of Aloha's board of directors).[12] However, a disagreement between cargo division bidders and Aloha's primary lender, GMAC Commercial Finance, ended with the bidders dropping out of the auction.[13] Almost immediately afterwards, GMAC halted all funding to Aloha's cargo division, forcing all cargo operations to cease; at the same time, Aloha's board of directors decided to convert its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization filing into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.[13]

Saltchuk Resources decided to renew its bid to purchase the cargo division at the urging of U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, and a deal between Aloha and Saltchuk was struck and approved by the federal bankruptcy court, where Saltchuk would purchase the cargo division for $10.5 million.[14] The sale was approved by federal Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King on May 12, 2008, with the sale expected to close two days later.[15]

Prior to its bid for Aloha, Saltchuk Resources was already present in Hawaii through its subsidiaries Young Brothers/Hawaiian Tug & Barge, Hawaii Fuel Network, Maui Petroleum and Minit Stop Stores. The company also owns Northern Air Cargo, Alaska's largest cargo airline. A new subsidiary, Aeko Kula Inc., was set up by Saltchuk to operate Aloha Air Cargo.

The Aloha Airlines name and intellectual propertyEdit

In January 2011 Los Angeles-based Yucaipa Cos., the former majority shareholder of Aloha won federal Bankruptcy Court approval to buy the Aloha name and other intellectual property for $1.5 million with a stipulation that it not resell the name to Mesa Air Group, the parent of go! Mokulele. In 2009, Mesa sought to re-brand its go! planes as Aloha. But federal Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King stopped the name change, following impassioned pleas from former Aloha Airlines employees who largely blamed Mesa for Aloha's demise. It is unknown at this time what the future plans are for the Aloha name.

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File:Aloha 732.jpg

Prior to the shutdown of its passenger services on March 31, 2008, Aloha Airlines provided passenger service to/from the following cities:

American Samoa

  • Pago Pago (Pago Pago International Airport) twice weekly flight


  • Vancouver (Vancouver International Airport)

Cook Islands

  • Rarotonga (Rarotonga International Airport)


  • Kiritimati (Cassidy International Airport) one weekly flight, usually on Sunday mornings to connect Hawaii with Christmas Island

Marshall Islands

  • Kwajalein (Bucholz Army Airfield) twice weekly flight, alternate stop via Majuro
  • Majuro]] (Marshall Islands International Airport) twice weekly flight, alternate stop via Kwajalein

Midway Atoll

  • Midway (Henderson Field) scheduled chartered flights, usually on Wednesdays

United States

  • Burbank (Bob Hope Airport)
  • Hilo (Hilo International Airport)
  • Honolulu (Honolulu International Airport) Hub
  • Kahului (Kahului Airport) Focus City
  • Kailua (Kona International Airport)
  • Las Vegas (International Airport)
  • Lihue (Lihue Airport)
  • Oakland (Oakland International Airport)
  • Orange County (John Wayne Airport) Focus City
  • Phoenix (Sky Harbor International Airport)
  • Reno (Reno/Tahoe International Airport)
  • Sacramento (Sacramento International Airport)
  • San Diego (San Diego International Airport)


At the time the Aloha airlines ceased operations, the airline's fleet consisted of the following aircraft:

Aloha Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers
Routes Notes
Boeing 737-200 13 127 (-/127) Hawaii Inter-Island
Boeing 737-700 8 124 (12/112) US Mainland
Boeing 737-800 1 162 (12/150) US Mainland
(primarily Kahului-Sacramento)
Leased from Transavia from
November 2007 - April 2008 [16]

As of March 2008, the average age of the Aloha Airlines fleet was 18.2 years.[17]

Codeshare agreementsEdit

Aloha Airlines had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:

Incidents and accidentsEdit

  • On 27 June 1969, Vickers Viscount N7410 was damaged beyond repair when it collided on the ground with Douglas DC-9-31 N906H of Hawaiian Airlines at Honolulu International Airport.[20]
  • On 8 August 1971, Vickers Viscount N7415 was damaged beyond economic repair at Honolulu International Airport when a fire broke out upon landing.[21]
  • On April 28, 1988 Aloha Airlines Flight 243 was a scheduled Boeing 737-297 flight between Hilo and Honolulu in Hawaii. The aircraft suffered extensive damage after an explosive decompression in flight, but was able to land safely at Kahului Airport on Maui. A senior flight attendant, Clarabell Lansing, was the sole fatality as she was blown out of the airplane, whereas another 65 passengers and crew were injured. The safe landing of the aircraft with such a major loss of integrity was unprecedented and remains unsurpassed. Subsequent investigations concluded that the accident was caused by metal fatigue. The television film Miracle Landing is based on this accident.




External linksEdit

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