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Come Fly The Cheap-ass Skies

By Margaret Lyons in News on Aug 24, 2004 9:36PM

2004_08_24.ata.jpgATA is selling off its assets at Midway in an effort to avoid bankruptcy, according to a report in today’s Financial Times. The cheapo airline, which is Chicagoist’s most-used carrier, is trying to get rid of leases on 14 airport gates and more than 30 Boeing 737-800 planes. As a side note, that image is right off the ATA website, which is horribly sad in a certain way.

ATA accounts for about 44 percent of outbound seats from Midway, just ahead of Southwest, and a third of its gates. Midway recently added customs areas to accommodate ATA’s international travel. ATA hopes to make enough money shedding its Midway stuff to pay off the $148.5 million it owes to the Airline Transportation Stabilization Board. Wow, looks like that stabilization is totally working.

In addition to 3,678 jobs, the carrier owes the city about $27 million on bonds floated two years ago to buy land for a $100-million training center that never got built The airline also has to pay back almost $5 million in state grants if it doesn't build the center or employ 4,500 workers here by yearend 2005.

AirTran and Mesa apparently both want in on some of ATA’s sloppy seconds, and knowing what we know about AirTran and Mesa, which is just that they’re incredibly seedy and cheap, we’re going to throw our name out there too. We want badly to start Chicagoist Airlines, so if we all just shook the change out of our couches, we’d be in the running.

Chicagoist Airlines will feature an inter-airport library, so you don’t have to buy a stupid detective book just to have something to read on the plane—you can just borrow one. No shame in simply looking at an Us Weekly for a while, but actually purchasing one? Adios, indie cred. Yes, Chicagoist Airlines will absolutely honk of collegiate poverty indie cred. We'll have to accept ATA travel award points, too, because, well, what the fuck else are we going to do with all the otherwise meaningless points we've accumulated.