Aloha Airlines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aloha Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedJuly 26, 1946 (1946-07-26)
(as Trans-Pacific Airlines)[1]
Commenced operationsJuly 26, 1946 (1946-07-26)[1]
Ceased operationsMarch 31, 2008 (2008-03-31)
(passenger division, cargo division later become Aloha Air Cargo)
HubsHonolulu International Airport
Focus citiesKahului Airport
Frequent-flyer programAlohaPass
Fleet size22
Parent companyAloha Air Group
HeadquartersHonolulu, Hawaii
Key people David Banmiller (President & CEO)
  • Ruddy Tongg
  • Richard C Tongg

Aloha Airlines was an airline in the United States that operated passenger flights from 1946 until 2008.[1] It was headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii,[2] operating from its hub at Honolulu International Airport (now Daniel K. Inouye International Airport).


Propeller era[edit]

The airline was founded as charter carrier Trans-Pacific Airlines by publisher Ruddy F. Tongg Sr. as a competitor to Hawaiian Airlines, commencing operations on July 26, 1946, with a war-surplus Douglas C-47 (DC-3) on a flight from Honolulu to Maui and Hilo.[3][4][5] Tongg and partners founded the airline after being bumped from flights on the only inter-island carrier, Hawaiian Airlines.[3] The company employed local Island residents and its first slogan was "The People's Airline.[3] It soon earned the nickname "The Aloha Airline".[5] 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.[6]

In 1952, the airline reported its first annual profit, approximately $36,000.[7] In 1950, the airline adopted the name TPA-The Aloha Airline. To compete, Hawaiian Airlines began using the Convair 340.[8] In 1958, real estate developer Hung Wo Ching, became CEO of the airline and changed the name to Aloha Airlines.[4][8] In 1959, Aloha began using Fairchild F-27 turboprops.[1] Also in 1959, the company became a public company via an initial public offering.[7]

Jet engine era[edit]

Aloha BAC 1-11 in 1967
Aloha Boeing 737-200 at Honolulu in May 1981
Aloha Pacific DC-10-30 at Taipei Airport in July 1984
A former Aloha Boeing 737-700WL in storage in Southend Airport, England, after the airline's 2008 demise

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 from Northeast Airlines.[9] The October 1, 1964, cover of the airline's system timetable proclaimed "Hawaii's Only All Jet Power Service Between The Islands" as Aloha was operating all of its inter-island flights at this time with the Fairchild F-27 and Vickers Viscount turboprops.[10] Soon, the airline made the move to pure jets, with its first new British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven twin jet 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-9-30 jets, Aloha realized its smaller BAC One-Eleven series 200 aircraft, which also suffered from performance penalties at Kona International Airport (which had a shorter runway at the time), put it at a disadvantage. Aloha placed an order for two Boeing 737-200 jetliners in 1968. Named "Funbirds," the Boeing jets entered service in March 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 Viscount 745 turboprop aircraft and became an all-jet airline.[citation needed]

In 1983, Aloha introduced its AlohaPass frequent flyer program.[11] 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 1985, 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 approved Boeing 737-200s.

In late 1986, Ching and vice-chairman Sheridan Ing announced plans to take the company private after surviving hostile takeover bids,[12] and it remained in the hands of the Ing and Ching families until its emergence from bankruptcy in 2006, when additional investors including Yucaipa Companies, 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.[13]

On February 14, 2000, the airline began mainland service, flying newly delivered ETOPS certified Boeing 737-700 jetliners 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. Aloha also offered flights from Honolulu to Vancouver. In addition, the airline served the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (BUR, now known as Bob Hope Airport) in the Los Angeles area with nonstop Boeing 737-700 service to and from Honolulu.

Aloha Airline's longest inter-island route was 216 miles (348 km), while the shortest route was a mere 62 miles (100 km). The average travel distance per inter-island flight was 133 miles (214 km).[14] 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.[15][16][17]

Economic challenges[edit]

Rising costs and economic stagnation in Japan put Aloha into a defensive position in the early 2000s, exacerbated by the September 11 attacks, the SARS panic of 2003, and soaring fuel prices. On December 30, 2004, Aloha Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Led by Marc Bilbao and six other Giuliani advisors in December 2004, Giuliani Partners through Giuliani Capital sold Aloha to Ronald Burkle's group of investors and also obtained a $65 million loan for the carrier.[18] In November 2005, Giuliani renegotiated with Aloha Chief David Banmiller for Giuliani's total compensation to be increased to $2.9 million.[18] 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.

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.[19] 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.[20] The shutdown resulted in the layoffs of about 1,900 of the company's roughly 3,500 employees.[21] Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle asked the bankruptcy court involved to delay the shutdown of Aloha Airlines passenger services, and forcibly restore passenger service;[22] however, federal Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King declined, saying the court should not interfere with business decisions.[23]

After the shutdown of passenger operations, Aloha and its creditors sought to auction its profitable cargo and contract services division. Pacific Air Cargo acquired the division in 2008 for $2.2 million and operates it under the name Aloha Contract Services.[24][25][26]

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).[27] However, a disagreement between cargo division bidders and Aloha's primary lender, GMAC Commercial Finance, ended with the bidders dropping out of the auction.[28] 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.[28]

Saltchuk 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.[29] The sale was approved by federal Bankruptcy Judge Lloyd King on May 12, 2008, with the sale expected to close two days later.[30]

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.

Name and intellectual property[edit]

In January 2011, Los Angeles-based Yucaipa Companies, 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.[31] 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.


Boeing 737-200

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

 American Samoa


 Cook Islands


 Marshall Islands

Midway Atoll

 United States

Codeshare agreements[edit]

Aloha Airlines had codeshare agreements with the following airlines:


Final fleet[edit]

At the time the Aloha airlines ceased operations, the airline's fleet was an all-737 fleet:

Aloha Airlines fleet
Aircraft Total Passengers Routes Notes
F Y Total
Boeing 737-200 13 127 127 Hawaii Inter-Island
Boeing 737-700 8 12 112 124 US Mainland
Boeing 737-800 1 12 150 162 US Mainland
(primarily Kahului-Sacramento)
Leased from Transavia[34]
Total 22

Fleet development[edit]

As of March 2008, the average age of the Aloha Airlines fleet was 18.2 years.[35]

Previously operated aircraft types[edit]

Other jet aircraft previously operated by Aloha included the Boeing 737-300 and 737-400.[36] According to various Aloha Airlines flight schedules which appeared in the Official Airline Guide (OAG), these aircraft were used for a short period of time on inter-island flights in Hawaii. Two Boeing 737-100 aircraft were also used briefly during the mid seventies time frame.

The airline previously operated Douglas C-47 prop aircraft followed by Fairchild F-27 and Vickers Viscount turboprop airliners. The first jet type operated by Aloha was the British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven. Aloha subsidiary Aloha Pacific operated the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 wide body jetliner.

Retired fleet prior to ceasing operations[edit]

Aloha Airlines retired fleet[37]
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
BAC One-Eleven Series 200AU 3 1966 1969 Transferred to Mohawk Airlines
Boeing 737-100 2 1973 1978 Transferred to Air California
Boeing 737-3T0 3 1988 1993
Boeing 737-300QC 2 1997 1997 Transferred to America West Airlines
Boeing 737-400 2 1992 1996
Douglas C-47 Skytrain 9 1946 1965
Fairchild F-27 6 1959 1967
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 1 1984 1985 Leased from Continental Airlines
Vickers Viscount 745D 4 1963 1971

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The fuselage of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 after suffering explosive decompression over Hawaii

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Bernardo, Rosemarie (September 29, 2002). "Aloha Airlines starts on right flight path". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  2. ^ Wu, Nina (May 4, 2007). "United takes minority stake in Aloha". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  3. ^ a b c Gordon, Mike (April 8, 2008). "Post-war prejudice gave rise to Aloha 'The People's Airline'". ABC News.
  4. ^ a b Sigall, Bob (July 22, 2011). "Trans-Pacific Airlines became Aloha to appeal to tourists". Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
  5. ^ a b Kelly, Jim (March 31, 2008). "Aloha Airlines goes out of business". American City Business Journals.
  6. ^ Melendy, Brett. "The Competition for Trans-Pacific Air Routes to Hawai'i, 1945-1959" (PDF).
  7. ^ a b Gomes, Andrew (July 28, 1996). "Aloha Airlines celebrates 50th". American City Business Journals.
  8. ^ a b Burlingame, Burl (April 6, 2008). "Sky wars: The rise and fall of Aloha Airlines". Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
  9. ^ "Aloha Airlines pilots comment on pension issue". Star Bulletin. August 27, 2006. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  10. ^, Oct. 1, 1964 Aloha Airlines system timetable
  11. ^ Beiske, Ben (May 29, 2002). Loyalty Management in the Airline Industry. ISBN 9783832454647.
  12. ^ Lynch, Russ (September 24, 1999). "Entrepreneur soared with Aloha". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  13. ^ Natarajan, Prabha (December 5, 2003). "Aloha Airlines sells Island Air; new owners promise expansion". American City Business Journals.
  14. ^ "Aloha Airlines Files".
  15. ^ "Where we Fly". Aloha Airlines. Archived from the original on April 6, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  16. ^ "AlohaPass". Archived from the original on April 3, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  17. ^ Codeshare partners Archived January 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b Vardi, Nathan (October 28, 2006). "The Company He Keeps". Forbes.
  19. ^ Blair, Chad (March 20, 2008). "Aloha Airlines files for second bankruptcy in 3 years, blames go! for losses". American City Business Journals.
  20. ^ McAvoy, Audrey (March 30, 2008). "Aloha Airlines halting passenger service". Associated Press – via Seattle Times.
  21. ^ Segal, Dave (March 31, 2008). "Aloha Air shuts down". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008.
  22. ^ "Lingle challenges Aloha shutdown in court". American City Business Journals. March 30, 2008.
  23. ^ Segal, Dave (April 1, 2008). "Ending service is Aloha's call, court says". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  24. ^ "Lack of financing leads Aloha Airlines to shut down cargo division". The Economic Times. April 29, 2008.
  25. ^ Hrushka, Anna (March 15, 2018). "Pacific Air Cargo CEO Beti Ward dies". American City Business Journals.
  26. ^ "Aloha Contract Services". Aloha Contract Services. Archived from the original on April 29, 2021. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  27. ^ Segal, Dave (April 2, 2008). "Turbulent aftermath". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  28. ^ a b Segal, Dave (April 29, 2008). "Bidders drop out and funding halts". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  29. ^ Segal, Dave (May 2, 2008). "Return flight". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  30. ^ Segal, Dave (May 13, 2008). "Court allows Seattle firm to buy Aloha's cargo division". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008.
  31. ^ "Aloha Airlines' name and assets sold". American City Business Journals. January 5, 2011.
  32. ^ "Island Air launches independent Maui-Kona service". USA Today. Associated Press. May 12, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  33. ^ "Feel like you're flying by the seat of your pants? Sit back and relax with these tips". The Seattle Times. April 20, 2008. Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2008.
  34. ^ "Boeing 737-8K2 - Aloha Airlines (Transavia Airlines) | Aviation Photo #1324487 |".
  35. ^ "Fleet age Aloha Airlines". Airfleets aviation. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2006.
  36. ^, Aloha Airlines Boeing 737-300 and 737-400 photos in Hawaii
  37. ^ "Aloha Airlines fleet". Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  38. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved October 7, 2009.
  39. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  40. ^ "Aloha Airlines Flight 243, April 28, 1988". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. April 27, 2018.
  41. ^ Hurley, Timothy (April 28, 2018). "Remembering Aloha Airlines Flight 243". Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
  42. ^ Ortega, Sergio (August 1, 1999). "Miracle Landing (Movie review)". Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  • Young, Branden (July–August 2006). "Aloha Airlines: Ready to Protect Their Beachfront in Paradise". Airliners: The World's Aviation Magazine. Airliners Publications. pp. 35–39.
  • Forman, Peter (2005). Wings of Paradise: Hawaii's Incomparable Airlines. Kailua, HI: Barnstormer Books. ISBN 978-0-9701594-4-1.

External links[edit]