Air Transport World

The enigma. (Trans State Airlines)

Opportunistic yet conservative U.S. regional Trans States may be the best-kept secret in the business

Most regional airline presidents don't mind a little attention. Not Hulas Kanodia. He would rather have a root canal without anesthetic.

A private person in a very public-oriented business, Kanodia is president and CEO of St. Louis-based Trans States Airlines, a privately held carrier that has primary ties to TWA, USAir and United Airlines, and ad hoc relationships with Northwest and Alaska Airlines. Two other part-time partners may be added this year, according to one board member.

Kanodia, major shareholder in a tightly knit group of investors, has transformed the airline from a small Piper Navajo and Fairchild Metro operation in the 1980s, then named Resort Air, to a regional airline with a network stretching to both coasts, to the upper Midwest from Chicago and as far south as Birmingham, Pda., from St. Louis. It employs 750 systemwide. It has managed to remain profitable, despite the once-poor reputation of its lead partner, TWA, and a persistent perception by the traveling public that turboprop-powered aircraft are not safe.

Trans States and its Chicago-based subsidiary, United Feeder Service, posted a combined operating profit of $11.3 million for the first nine months of 1995, down from $22.8 million for the same period in 1994, according to U.S. DOT.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the airline and its subsidiary posted net profits of $2. …

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