Stranger things have happened, I guess, but this one is up there. After allegedly stealing their information, and at least in part helping push them out of business, Mesa now plans to be the new Aloha Airlines.
Mesa Airlines announced today that it has settled its unfair competition lawsuit with the Aloha Airlines’ former shareholder. The settlement provides for Mesa to:
- Pay $2 million in cash and issue new stock equivalent to 10% of its current outstanding shares.
- Provide unspecified travel benefits to prior Aloha Airlines employees.
- License the Aloha name from the shareholder if they are successful in purchasing it.
Yes, you’ve got that right. According to CEO Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa’s intention is:
“Re-branding service under the Aloha name in the near future.”
- Mesa, under the name Go!, entered the Hawaii inter-island market in 2006 and was soon charged with unfair competition by both Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines.
- To a large degree unrelated to Go!, Aloha subsequently went bankrupt, last Spring.
- Hawaiian Airlines was awarded a $52 million settlement in their litigation.
- To add to the confusion, Mesa is in terrible shape and will likely not remain in business. In other words, they are only slightly less dead than Aloha. Their stock closed unchanged today at $0.20/share. I’ve discussed this widely before, as have other industry analysts.
- Mesa, under any name, will not be well received in Hawaii. The way in which they pursued the market left bad feelings in the state that will not be soon forgotten. This move, unfortunately, is typically insensitive of Mesa. It will likely cause more of the Hawaii resident inter-island traffic (which is significant) to align even more with competitors Hawaiian, Mokulele and Island Air.
- The Go! planes are the most uncomfortable jets flying in the Islands. Their service hasn’t been well-reviewed (and I can attest to that). That also has not helped matters.