|Quoting B757capt (Reply 9):|
Are we to assume that ATA is making more money on leasing their a/c to others vs the money they make actually flying them? If thats the case, I'd be worried on the ATA side.
I'm not sure that that's where they're going. ATA has always had a substantial military charter component, and they used to have a very substantial civilian track charter component when tour and cruise operators were more interested in selling that kind of package. (Now, there is something of a shift towards filling discounted seats on scheduled flights rather than chartering a whole aircraft; while the business still exists, it's smaller.) The 738s are suited to a solid track charter program, but less suited to ad hoc charter because of their high capital cost. Running them in scheduled service, particularly to Hawaii, appears to be working well for ATA -- so well, in fact, that they backed off the lower-capital-cost and smaller-size 733 mini-fleet that they were going to develop, when their strategic plans changed a bit. The 738 fleet is much smaller than it was at its peak; many were let go in bankruptcy, as were several 752s and 753s. ATA does appear to have thought that its fleet was right-sized in those aircraft categories. If they have a solid track-charter or solid wet lease for one or two 738s at the margin that aren't being well-utilized, it's probably a good move until they find something else profitable to do with one or two birds. I, for one, would be happy to hear that they're looking at all opportunities to best use all of their assets.
Also, given that they are now a subsidiary of the company that owns World and North American, I could see North American having a use for a 738 for one of the customers to whom it used to wet-lease a 752.
However, I think it more likely that the "hybrid" operation would be either (1) similar to the old Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays arrangement where part of the plane was purchased by Pleasant as a charter and the remaining seats sold by ATA as sked service; or (2) the long-awaited Southwest arrangement where Southwest uses another carrier to stick its toe into international markets. (Why the latter would be any different than the present code-share to Hawaii, I don't know, but that may explain the wink.) I'll be interested to see what it turns out to be.