Nearing end of bankrupcy, ATA to expand service

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 6:08 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ ATA Airlines will add service to four cities and increase flights to Hawaii, the first sign of the airline's business plan once it emerges from federal bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks.

Monday's announcement comes after months of gate closures and layoffs. It is the first time the company has added service since May 2005.

``With this announcement, we return to one of the core strengths on which ATA was built _ leisure travel _ while growing in a market that has been historically successful for our company,'' chief executive John Denison said in a statement.

Starting in April, the Indianapolis-based carrier will begin flying from Houston's William P. Hobby Airport to New York. The airline also will begin flying from Hilo International Airport in Hawaii, Oakland International Airport and Ontario International Airport near Los Angeles.

ATA will increase its nonstop flights from Honolulu to the U.S. mainland and will add daily round trip flights from Houston to New York-LaGuardia.

Combined, the new flights represent an 11.5 percent increase in the airline's daily departures.

ATA, and its parent company ATA Holdings Corp., are expected to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late February.

ATA was founded in 1973, flying charter trips to leisure destinations. After becoming a passenger carrier in the 1980s, the airline grew to be the nation's 10th largest carrier before filing for bankruptcy in October 2004.

Throughout its restructuring process, the 33-year-old airline has slashed routes and discontinued service to nearly a dozen cities. In November, executives announced the carrier was ending service to its home city in Indianapolis. ATA's hub is at Chicago's Midway airport.