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October 23, 2014

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ATA bankruptcy disrupts travel to Hawaii; Southwest scrambling

The announcement today that ATA Airlines has shut down after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection severs another conduit for passengers between Las Vegas and Honolulu.

The Indianapolis-based airline – a code-share partner with Southwest Airlines, the busiest carrier at McCarran International Airport – had only one daily flight to and from Las Vegas.

But that flight was one of three daily nonstop round trips between Las Vegas and Hawaii’s largest city and capital, Honolulu.

Southwest’s code-share agreement enabled customers to book travel on Southwest to several ATA destinations. McCarran was one of four airports Southwest used to transfer customers and baggage through an agreement the airlines had since February 2005.

Southwest is rebooking passengers who purchased tickets through Southwest and were scheduled to fly on ATA. The airline said it would rebook passengers on a new itinerary closest to their previous travel plans or offer a full refund for any unused portion of a ticket.

There was no indication of how many ATA customers are stranded in Las Vegas as a result of the shutdown. Customers have been encouraged to call (800) 308-5037 to rebook travel.

Southwest also indicated it would contact customers booked on ATA flights that it has sold through Aug. 22 to rearrange travel.

Customers seeking refunds from ATA have been directed to call (888) 909-0100 for information on the bankruptcy claim filing process.

“ATA Airlines has been an outstanding partner for Southwest and we are disappointed to hear this unfortunate news,” said Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly in a statement issued this morning. “We are sad to end our code-share relationship with ATA but understand it’s extremely difficult for an airline to flourish in today’s arduous financial environment that has been plagued by soaring fuel prices.”

The ATA closure also apparently ends Southwest’s bid to begin international service in the future. Southwest officials had strategized about selling tickets internationally through its ATA partnership.

Today’s announcement was the second bankruptcy filing this week involving travel to Hawaii. On Monday, Aloha Airlines announced it was shutting down as a result of a bankruptcy filing after announcing last week that it would continue to fly despite the filing.

Aloha had one round trip a day between McCarran and Oakland, Calif., where it connected with flights to several Hawaii destinations.

There are two daily nonstop round trips scheduled between McCarran and Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. Several carriers offer one-stop service to the islands from Las Vegas.

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