ATA Airlines


is putting its Chicago Express regional service up for sale.

In a news release, ATA said it had hired Compass Advisors to manage the sale, which includes Chicago Express' federal operating certificates.

"Among the more valuable parts of this regional airline are the operating certificates which ... would enable a buyer to begin air service more quickly than if a buyer was starting from scratch," said Sean Frick, ATA's chief restructuring officer. "A stand alone application for a new certificate could take up to two years before approval by the federal government. We believe there is substantial value for a buyer to begin air transportation service with this existing operation."

Chicago Express is a regional feeder airline that connects small and medium-sized cities with Chicago's Midway airport and Indianapolis. In addition to the operating certificates, its assets include 16 SAAB 340B aircraft, engine and airframe parts and a maintenance facility.

ATA has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since late October. As part of its restructuring, it sold rights to six Chicago Midway gates to

Southwest Airlines

(LUV) - Get Report

. The two airlines also entered into a code-sharing arrangement, which allows them to sell tickets on each other's flights.