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Runway765
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What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:27 am

Curious to know what exactly happened that caused ATA Airlines to go out of business in 2008. Was it a victim of the recession/high fuel prices or was it something more? There demise led to Southwest dominating MDW I think.

They had really catchy jingles back in the day.
 
USAir707
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:23 am

Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines
 
F9Animal
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:25 am

It was indeed a victim of recession and fuel prices. They also lost large military charter contracts. They had purchased World Airways before the collapse of their military charters. All of it combined was a major hit. I believe Southwest bought some of their routes too.
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TTailedTiger
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:36 am

I think Continental took their 753's.
 
wjcandee
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:10 am

John Tague happened to ATA Airlines.
 
wjcandee
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:11 am

F9Animal wrote:
It was indeed a victim of recession and fuel prices. They also lost large military charter contracts. They had purchased World Airways before the collapse of their military charters. All of it combined was a major hit. I believe Southwest bought some of their routes too.


The downfall was set in motion long before that, when George turned over the reins to John and backed his plan. Once they had to be rescued by the private capital guys, those guys' efforts to corner the market on military charter backfired.
 
TTailedTiger
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:36 am

Was their L-1011 just used for troop transports? I can't imagine it being able to use MDW.
 
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SR380
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:26 am

TTailedTiger wrote:
Was their L-1011 just used for troop transports? I can't imagine it being able to use MDW.


They also flew a lot of chater flights. I flew LAX LIH on one of their B753. I was hopping for L1011 but I think I was a bit late for that...
 
skystar767
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:27 am

Sad thing was a hedge fund company took over world ATA and North American Airline. If you work for a company and it’s going through hard times and a hedge fund comes in to help run like hell. They will lie to you and destroy your come. Run I say run. Telling you this from experience.
 
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gunsontheroof
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 12:22 pm

TTailedTiger wrote:
Was their L-1011 just used for troop transports? I can't imagine it being able to use MDW.


I think the last L-1011 I ever saw was an ATA bird landing at SEA...I think inbound as a troop charter from DNA, but it was probably '05/'06, so the memory is a bit fuzzy. Those were cool looking planes. I enjoyed catching their 753s too.
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dergay
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 12:43 pm

Flown on A300,A310,A318,A319,A320,A321,A330,B707,B720,B727,B737,B747,B757,B767,L382,L1011,C5,DC-3,DC8,
 
Chuska
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:25 pm

In 1999 ATA acquired Chicago Express giving them a commuter code-share feeder operation at MDW called ATA Connection. They used Jetstream 31's and Saab-340's. The operation lasted into 2005.
 
Cubsrule
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:32 pm

wjcandee wrote:
F9Animal wrote:
It was indeed a victim of recession and fuel prices. They also lost large military charter contracts. They had purchased World Airways before the collapse of their military charters. All of it combined was a major hit. I believe Southwest bought some of their routes too.


The downfall was set in motion long before that, when George turned over the reins to John and backed his plan. Once they had to be rescued by the private capital guys, those guys' efforts to corner the market on military charter backfired.


I’m glad to hear someone make a different case, but I think TZ’s downfall was inevitable once the invested in a complete fleet renewal and then 9/11 happened. The lack of aircraft smaller than a 175-seat 738 and WN’s continual expansion at MDW certainly did not help either. Folks forget that a lot of their higher-yielding routes - BOS, LGA, MSP, etc. - did not have WN.
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NWAESC
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:51 pm

TTailedTiger wrote:
Was their L-1011 just used for troop transports? I can't imagine it being able to use MDW.


As noted earlier, lots of charters. Sports charters, package tours, you name it. I worked their L10's a couple of times, sending fans to the Rose Bowl.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."
 
n729pa
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:06 pm

There was a travel documentary series made here in the UK where legendary TV presenter Alan Wicker took a very exclusive round the world trip using a ATA L1011. They started in London got the Orient Express to Venice then travelled to Egypt India China Hong Kong Australia Fiji Tahiti Easter Island Brazil and USA then I think it was the QE2 back to the UK. It was about 30 years old but the fare was something like £25+K a person and there was only 25 passengers or so on this flight. It took 2-3 weeks or something to do. It was an interesting series. The met another ATA L1011 in Easter island going the other any.
 
USAirALB
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:11 pm

For the life of me I can't figure out what they wanted to be...LCC? Full-service carrier?

They had a LCC-style fare structure (for the time, when LCC essentially just meant simplified) and extremely low last-minute fares...I think they had a policy that no one-way fare would be more than $299. They also had no change/stand-by fees. Can't remember if they had a frequent-flyer program or not. On the other hand, they offered assigned seats, had a regional wing (ATA Connection), served complimentary meals (up until 2002/2003, then went to BOB with legacy style free drinks and cookies/peanuts...Hawaii flights may have lasted longer), had IFE, and eventually added a premium-cabin.

I had forgotten about them until I came across a creepy-2000s inspired CGI 738 safety video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms8rG-cJuLk) and saw a 2003 route map. They had a decent Hawaiian network from the West Coast, and I believe after Aloha were one of the first carriers to run 737s to Hawaii. I remember some of the routes did not make sense...they served CLT IIRC with 4 or 5x daily 738s and US quickly entered CLT-MDW and matched their fares. They discontinued a ton of MDW routes in 2005 (CLT included) and never seemed to expand out of it.

Anyways, I was always figured they wouldn't make it once they started chopping away MDW during bankruptcy, and essentially seemed to put all of their revenue towards military contracts.
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Cubsrule
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:19 pm

USAirALB wrote:
Can't remember if they had a frequent-flyer program or not.


They did.

USAirALB wrote:
I remember some of the routes did not make sense...they served CLT IIRC with 4 or 5x daily 738s and US quickly entered CLT-MDW and matched their fares. They discontinued a ton of MDW routes in 2005 (CLT included) and never seemed to expand
out of it.


The MDW short- and medium-haul network was essentially comprised of service to the largest cities not served by WN like CLT, MSP, and PIT. The 738 was way too much airplane for most of those routes, but I'm sure the competitive response did not help either. I'm not sure that US had that much effect on the CLT service; the competitive response there was like 2-3 daily YV ERJs. On the other hand, though, NW ran a ton of capacity, including 752s and 753s, on MDW-MSP.
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freakyrat
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:59 pm

Chuska wrote:
In 1999 ATA acquired Chicago Express giving them a commuter code-share feeder operation at MDW called ATA Connection. They used Jetstream 31's and Saab-340's. The operation lasted into 2005.


Chicago Express had maintenance base at SBN that is now a Skywest base.
 
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CV990A
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:01 pm

TTailedTiger wrote:
I think Continental took their 753's.


They did - my only 757-300 flight was on an ex-ATA bird CLE-LAS on Continental. I was sitting at the very back of the plane - it took FOREVER to get off!
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jfklganyc
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:07 pm

Pilots that come from other airlines to your airline always reminisce. All of a sudden airlines like TWA Midway and AirTran were great airlines to work for.

One day a Captain gave me that line about ATA. I couldnt help myself...I asked “what are you kidding me?”

They were attempting to be a pseudo legacy with a hub and a regional feeder at MDW. A smaller hub at IND.

It was a 90s model that worked well with old airplanes that were cheap to acquire and cheap fuel that made said airplanes cheap to run.

It broke down with the expense of new airplanes.

Furthermore, they had an identity crisis as evidenced by their string of liveries: Block letters to Palm trees to a more classic look at the end. Fun, vacation, discount, charter, business...you name it, they did it.

Jack of all trades, master at none doesnt work well in the airline business.

WN and losing the military contract sealed the deal for them.

BTW, the only pilot I ever met that didnt tell me how great his defunct airline was was a retired Delta pilot.

He was brought over from Pan Am with the DL takeover of JFK in 1991.He said Delta was the best thing that ever happened to them. Delta treated them top notch and the takeover was the best thing for him
 
Tristar787
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:34 pm

jfklganyc wrote:
Pilots that come from other airlines to your airline always reminisce. All of a sudden airlines like TWA Midway and AirTran were great airlines to work for.

One day a Captain gave me that line about ATA. I couldnt help myself...I asked “what are you kidding me?”


Well I too once worked for TZ and I loved it. Sure the company had problems but the crews were great, trips were fun and I felt Scheduling treated me fairly. I’ve worked for several airlines since then to compare my individual experience. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
 
evank516
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:41 pm

I just remember their folding is what got WN into LGA. Big deal at the time.
 
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Citrus1492
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:41 pm

USAirALB wrote:
For the life of me I can't figure out what they wanted to be...LCC? Full-service carrier?

They had a LCC-style fare structure (for the time, when LCC essentially just meant simplified) and extremely low last-minute fares...I think they had a policy that no one-way fare would be more than $299. They also had no change/stand-by fees. Can't remember if they had a frequent-flyer program or not. On the other hand, they offered assigned seats, had a regional wing (ATA Connection), served complimentary meals (up until 2002/2003, then went to BOB with legacy style free drinks and cookies/peanuts...Hawaii flights may have lasted longer), had IFE, and eventually added a premium-cabin.

I had forgotten about them until I came across a creepy-2000s inspired CGI 738 safety video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms8rG-cJuLk) and saw a 2003 route map. They had a decent Hawaiian network from the West Coast, and I believe after Aloha were one of the first carriers to run 737s to Hawaii. I remember some of the routes did not make sense...they served CLT IIRC with 4 or 5x daily 738s and US quickly entered CLT-MDW and matched their fares. They discontinued a ton of MDW routes in 2005 (CLT included) and never seemed to expand out of it.

Anyways, I was always figured they wouldn't make it once they started chopping away MDW during bankruptcy, and essentially seemed to put all of their revenue towards military contracts.

I remember WN had the same $299 max fare, a long, long, long time ago. A return to that in the current environment would put butts in seats.
Be the best
 
FlyingElvii
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:49 pm

wjcandee wrote:
John Tague happened to ATA Airlines.

This.......
The “ Southwest II” idea was doomed from the start.
 
mga707
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:49 pm

evank516 wrote:
I just remember their folding is what got WN into LGA. Big deal at the time.


DCA as well. Southwest code-share prior to that. Flew ATA on a WN code-share flight MDW-DCA in '06.
 
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jscottwomack
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:11 pm

TTailedTiger wrote:
Was their L-1011 just used for troop transports? I can't imagine it being able to use MDW.


I don't think it is possible. I flew ATA from MDW to SJU roundtrip back in the day on the 753 and it used every inch of the runway on takeoff and landing. If you think a Southwest 737-800 brakes hard on landing at MDW, try it on a 757-300.
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ZK-NBT
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:24 pm

They used to do some sort of charter 1-2 times a year not sure if it was RTW or something else, but there L1011s did visit AKL a number of times, I think late in the year November December but I could be wrong on that.
 
USAirALB
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:26 pm

Was the L-1011 even used on scheduled service? I know they attempted JFK-HNL around 2001 which I imagine was flown with the L-1011.

This route map (http://www.departedflights.com/TZ060101.html) also shows nonstop MDW-HNL. How would that have been possible?
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Cubsrule
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:28 pm

USAirALB wrote:
This route map (http://www.departedflights.com/TZ060101.html) also shows nonstop MDW-HNL. How would that have been possible?


IINM it was nonstop eastbound only. TW did something similar on STL-HNL around the same time.
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departedflights
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:09 pm

USAirALB wrote:
This route map (http://www.departedflights.com/TZ060101.html) also shows nonstop MDW-HNL. How would that have been possible?


Cubsrule wrote:
IINM it was nonstop eastbound only. TW did something similar on STL-HNL around the same time.


Cubsrule is correct. I took a look at that timetable and Honolulu-Chicago was nonstop. Chicago-Honolulu stopped in Phoenix.
The opinions are expressed are my own and do not represent those of anyone else, including my coworkers or my employer.
 
ContinentalEWR
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:32 pm

TTailedTiger wrote:
I think Continental took their 753's.


Yes, they did, although CO had also ordered the 757-300 directly from Boeing.
 
ContinentalEWR
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:42 pm

jfklganyc wrote:
Pilots that come from other airlines to your airline always reminisce. All of a sudden airlines like TWA Midway and AirTran were great airlines to work for.

One day a Captain gave me that line about ATA. I couldnt help myself...I asked “what are you kidding me?”

They were attempting to be a pseudo legacy with a hub and a regional feeder at MDW. A smaller hub at IND.

It was a 90s model that worked well with old airplanes that were cheap to acquire and cheap fuel that made said airplanes cheap to run.

It broke down with the expense of new airplanes.

Furthermore, they had an identity crisis as evidenced by their string of liveries: Block letters to Palm trees to a more classic look at the end. Fun, vacation, discount, charter, business...you name it, they did it.

Jack of all trades, master at none doesnt work well in the airline business.

WN and losing the military contract sealed the deal for them.

BTW, the only pilot I ever met that didnt tell me how great his defunct airline was was a retired Delta pilot.

He was brought over from Pan Am with the DL takeover of JFK in 1991.He said Delta was the best thing that ever happened to them. Delta treated them top notch and the takeover was the best thing for him


This is an excellent summary as to why American Trans Air failed. It really was a jack of all trades with a relatively pointless and incoherent business model. As for Pan Am and TWA etc... it is easy to romanticize what they were based off their legacies but toward their respective end (Pan Am in 1991, TWA in 2001) both were hanging by a thread, if that. Delta's takeover of the JFK operation was in many ways something that saved a lot of jobs at a difficult moment in the US economy and Delta was on a very substantial growth phase at that time. They did not find a whole lot of success with what they bought from Pan Am at JFK at first (an old, outdated, worn out terminal, beaten up aircraft, and beaten down employees) but the 1991 purchase set the foundation for what has become a successful operation overall and cornerstone of Delta's global strategy.
 
superjeff
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:45 pm

TTailedTiger wrote:
Was their L-1011 just used for troop transports? I can't imagine it being able to use MDW.


They flew many scheduled services with the L10's, many to Hawaii where they operated with a major contract with Pleasant Holidays, a major tour operator there.
 
Max Q
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sun Feb 21, 2021 2:41 am

USAir707 wrote:
Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines



What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
USAir707
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:22 am

Max Q wrote:
USAir707 wrote:
Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines



What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!


Umm, because ATA is not an "obscure" airline, but was one of the largest and most well known charter outfits in America. We aren't talking about some off the beaten path airline with one aircraft here. It's ATA. Also, because his questions were clearly very well answered in the first paragraph of wikipedia as to why the airline ceased to exist.
 
Max Q
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:52 am

USAir707 wrote:
Max Q wrote:
USAir707 wrote:
Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines



What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!


Umm, because ATA is not an "obscure" airline, but was one of the largest and most well known charter outfits in America. We aren't talking about some off the beaten path airline with one aircraft here. It's ATA. Also, because his questions were clearly very well answered in the first paragraph of wikipedia as to why the airline ceased to exist.



Umm

You’re missing the point, this forum exists to discuss all matters related to aviation, obscure or well known and even if information is accessible from other sources
there’s nearly always more information here as is the case with this topic


Btw, it’s not mandatory for you to read any of them, if they bother you so much you could just stay on Wiki
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
stlgph
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:28 pm

USAir707 wrote:
Max Q wrote:
USAir707 wrote:
Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines



What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!


Umm, because ATA is not an "obscure" airline, but was one of the largest and most well known charter outfits in America. We aren't talking about some off the beaten path airline with one aircraft here. It's ATA. Also, because his questions were clearly very well answered in the first paragraph of wikipedia as to why the airline ceased to exist.


Not at all.

There's no color as to why a number of things ATA had done were being replicated just a few years later by other carriers, but they were more successful. Was it because of debt load, management decisions, wages, unfavorable leasing terms on not just airport operations but corporate operations, were they paying their employees too much, was their network simply not large enough for a success implementation of models at scale, was fleet utilization too low, did someone take all the petty cash and lose it on the slots at Caesar's?, were they providing too much service and charging too little fares, is it a shameful matter of they didn't think to deploy the current Allegiant or Spirit models soon enough?

But "just read Wikipedia.?" Come on. Be smart. Do better. It's not hard.
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RyanairGuru
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:50 pm

USAir707 wrote:
Max Q wrote:
USAir707 wrote:
Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines



What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!


Umm, because ATA is not an "obscure" airline, but was one of the largest and most well known charter outfits in America. We aren't talking about some off the beaten path airline with one aircraft here. It's ATA. Also, because his questions were clearly very well answered in the first paragraph of wikipedia as to why the airline ceased to exist.


ATA could be “obscure” to younger readers or those not from the USA. It has been almost 13 years. Do you really expect a 21 year old in Europe or Asia to not consider a charter airline in another country, that went bust when they were 8, to be at least slightly “obscure”?

And I for one learnt more by reading these 30-odd posts than by reading the Wikipedia article you linked.
Worked Hard, Flew Right
 
Cubsrule
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:25 pm

RyanairGuru wrote:
USAir707 wrote:
Max Q wrote:


What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!


Umm, because ATA is not an "obscure" airline, but was one of the largest and most well known charter outfits in America. We aren't talking about some off the beaten path airline with one aircraft here. It's ATA. Also, because his questions were clearly very well answered in the first paragraph of wikipedia as to why the airline ceased to exist.


ATA could be “obscure” to younger readers or those not from the USA. It has been almost 13 years. Do you really expect a 21 year old in Europe or Asia to not consider a charter airline in another country, that went bust when they were 8, to be at least slightly “obscure”?

And I for one learnt more by reading these 30-odd posts than by reading the Wikipedia article you linked.


To be clear (and I agree with your larger point - just quoting you because you’re at the bottom), “charter airline” isn’t really an accurate description of TZ for much of the end of its life.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
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NWAESC
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Re: What happened to ATA Airlines?

Mon Feb 22, 2021 11:30 pm

Max Q wrote:
USAir707 wrote:
Google and Wikipedia are your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Airlines



What would we all do without such helpful comments?


The poster opens an aviation related topic about a fairly obscure airline, this forum is and always has been probably the most comprehensive source of information for this type of operator and most others


And this information comes from its thousands of members who all have unique, and sometimes personal experiences to add


I guess my question is why do you personally come on this forum when ‘Google is your friend’ ?!


100% agree with this. The unique experiences/anecdotes are what makes this board what it is.
"Nothing ever happens here, " I said. "I just wait."

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Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos