AirTran acquired by Southwest – so now what?
We reported earlier this morning that Southwest Airlines will purchase AirTran Airways for a reported $1.4 billion.
So what exactly does this mean to travelers of the two low-cost carriers and their employees?
AirTran posted a “Fact Sheet” and “Q&A” on their company website Inside AirTran just minutes after the big news. Here are some of the highlights:
  •  Ability to spread more low fares to more consumers
  • Opportunity to serve smaller markets
  • Access to near-international destinations
  • Combined network provides improved opportunity for growth

Q. Will this acquisition result in layoffs?
A. The combination of the two airlines will result in additional employment opportunities as the combined airline continues to grow and expand the Southwest network. In its nearly 40 year history, even during the most recent financial crisis, Southwest has remained profitable and has never had layoffs.
Q. Will Southwest continue to serve all the AirTran cities?
A. This transaction is a strategic growth opportunity for Southwest and will create an even stronger national low fare network. AirTran serves or has announced service to 72 airports, Southwest currently serves 69 with three additional markets coming online in 2011. Of those, there are 32 common airports. That leaves a number of cities, including Atlanta, San Juan, Mexico and the Caribbean that are unique to AirTran and new for Southwest. The vast majority of our markets, if not all, will continue to be served – and likely receive much more service – from the combined company.
Q. What does today’s announcement mean for customers?
A. More…more flights, more low fares to more destinations, more opportunities to earn credits in our frequent flyer program. Both AirTran and Southwest have a long history of stimulating demand with low fares and excellent service – the combination of our two companies will increase growth opportunities and expand the economic benefits in the communities that we serve today and even more cities throughout the U.S., Mexico and Caribbean going forward.
Q. What about AirTran’s service to San Juan, Cancun and the Caribbean?
A. This service will continue uninterrupted – Mexico and the Caribbean expansion will continue to be an important and exciting part of our growth and the growth of the combined company.
Q. How many airports have both AirTran and Southwest today? How will we combine facilities and operations?
A. Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways jointly serve 32 airports. Combining operations will be an important focus of the integration teams – a number of Crew Members from both companies will participate in that process.
Q. How will this affect me and my job?
A.
Initially and for some period of time, today’s announcement will have
no impact on your current responsibilities. We all need to stay focused
on delivering excellent service and running the industry leading
operations that put us at the top of the Airline Quality Ratings (AQR).
Eventually the combination of AirTran and Southwest will create new
expansion possibilities and accelerate growth opportunities across the
combined network. This growth will naturally create new jobs and
advancement opportunities across both networks. It is worth noting that
both AirTran and Southwest are lean operations and not overstaffed – a
growing company will need more people, not less.

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