SOUTHWEST buying AirTran



I really like flying AirTran, they are the only airline I can find deals on to travel to my hometown. I have checked Southwest, but they are much more expensive having to pay per leg.


Certainly adds to SW network into smaller markets. Oh yeah…and ATL, BOS…places they say are too expensive for their model. Will be interesting. I usually avoid AirTran if it’s connecting in ATL, but they have some nice direct destinations.


This is either going to change things for Southwest or change things for routes and schedules. AirTran has (according to the article) 86 Boeing 717’s (the old DC-9). That’s not part of Southwest’s all 737 business model. If Southwest keeps to their model, then they’ll be dumping all those 717’s and that’s going to represent a lot of routes that won’t have an available aircraft to fly it. Or they keep the 717’s and their business model changes, which is significant because of the cost savings associated with operating only one basic airframe.

This one will be fun to watch, almost more so than the United/Continental merger.



I like the 717, and I would hope they would keep them even though against Southwest business model. Airtran is the only US carrier I know that still flies them. As far as calling them the old DC-9, that would be like calling a 737-800, the old 737. The 717s were built brand new, and are still very young and in very good shape. As for the 737-800 AirTran owns, Southwest has been making rumblings about acquiring some for a while, now they will own a whole fleet of them.


Sorry. I threw the “old DC-9” comment in there because a pilot buddy of mine didn’t know there even was such an aircraft before we had a rousing argument about it a few months ago. Inside joke.



Southwest started serving Boston over a year ago with 10x daily service.


Airtran is the only US carrier I know that still flies them.

Hawaiian Airlines has 15 of them: … rlines.htm

I love em!


I forgot about that. I haven’t been up that way in awhile. Airtran does a straight-shot from CAK to BOS I usually use.


Airtran does not have the 737-800 - their 737-700’s are very similar to Southwest’s.

However, Airtran has a very different corporate culture from Southwest and a very different business philosophy. I have a feeling that all the people that built Airtran out of the shells of two struggling tiny carriers on the verge of bankruptcy into the second largest LCC in the country will be let go.

The B717’s will be kept around for awhile and the former FL pilots will be stuck on them. I have a feeling they will only fly from ATL and MCO and all other FL routes will be taken over by 737’s that will then be routed throughout the WN system.

The Skywest codeshare in MKE will be dropped although WN may add service of their own to some of the points that they already serve (like OMA).

DFW will be interesting as FL flies there. WN will have to decide if they want to keep the operation at DFW and possibly even add other outside-wright destinations or if they want to abandon the fairly lucrative ATL-DFW market that FL flies.

FL has always lost money on most of their long flights - ATL-SFO, ATL-SAN, ATL-SEA. This will really help them there.


Read about this one and heard about it.

Generally SWA wouldn’t do something like this unless it smelled blood somewhere, but I’m not entirely sure which ‘blood’ they smelled. But there are a number of things I can see that come into play.

  1. Atlanta. With SWA’s model of avoiding the major hubs of other (legacy) airlines, I’m wondering if they would go straight into KATL. Is there another airport capable of handling a B737, B717, or DC9? If so, could they move shop to there, similar to how KDAL is to KDFW?

  2. This creates a HUGE
    advantage to SWA over FFT/MEP/RPA at KMKE. That is MEP’s hub, and SWA started up service there, because they smelled blood from MEP being bought by RPA. MKE is also TRS’ hub, so with SWA landing this deal, they are going to have a huge presence there. Could this be the battleground between Republic and Co. and SWA from the fallout of SWA being the loser in the bidding for FFT?

  3. New York. SWA obviously gets more service to LGA from this, but how would this adversely affect their EWR service that they will be starting? we know that SWA got a huge deal on the EWR gates (basically handed on a silver platter) as UAL/COA had to give them up for that deal to go through, but would more service from either one positively or negatively affect the other? Remains to be seen.

  4. Aircraft. Sorry, ladies and gents, but expect the B717s to go. SWA is still receiving B737-700s they ordered, and still have some on the books to receive. I can see those replacing the B717s they have, since they will be gaining 50something B737-700s from TRS. I believe SWA has enough B737s on order still to offset the B712s they’ll be getting. But over time, those will go, and go for another reason outright (see below).

  5. Destinations. We already know that the -700 has the range for it, but this gives SWA the access to Mexico and the Caribbean that they’ve wanted. MKJP, MMUN, TJSJ, MYNN, etc. Perhaps TNCM could be started? Either way, like with WJA, expect their deal with VOI to fall through.

Like I said… I don’t know whose blood they smelled: TRS being in trouble (which nothing really indicated that they were), DAL/NWA having issues (once again, nothing indicated), response to UAL/COA (once again, nothing, since that merger was just approved), out of spite with RPA for losing FFT, or simply “just because”… Either way, this helps SWA out a lot, especially with winter vacation season coming up, and even more so if this gets DOT/DOJ approval.


  1. I believe Southwest tried a few years ago to use Dekalb Peachtree but the not-in-my-backyard idiots complained

  2. They will need to use the 717’s for a while. There’s not a market for them, at least not for all of them. The alternative is to park them.


nooooooooooo WN bought their way into Clt…Us has to make a stand…


I highly doubt WN will expand CLT significantly (maybe just add MDW, MCO, and somewhere in Texas).

The other big thing that remains to be seen is what will happen with the small FL stations that don’t really fit the WN business model - places like BMI, MLI, DAY, ROC, CRW, PNS, BBG/BKG, UTA, GPT, ACY, FNT, AVL.


To be honest, none of them would really fit, as they either are near an airport SWA already flies to, or just able to fit in SWA’s model.

ROC is about an hour’s drive from BUF.
ACY is 45 minutes from PHL.
PNS? Maybe an hour from PFN, which SWA is starting service to.
CRW? nothing really out there at all.
BMI? Maybe, just to keep an eye on how AAY does in Peoria, but even that is chartered. MLI? I don’t think they could fill enough seats on either of those routes to stay profitable. Though I think it would be nice if they tried; it would provide a go-between for MDW/STL or MDW-OMA, so pax wouldn’t have to drive as far.
BBG? Maybe 2 hours to LIT, 3 to TUL. If the tourist trap doesn’t dry up…
UTA? 2 hours from LIT, or SWA bites the bullet and starts MEM service.
GPT? hour from MSY.
AVL? see CRW.
FNT? Hour and a half to DTW.

Tough call on those routes. What they could do is use the B717s to feed those routes into SWA’s main network, and use the B737s for the rest.



yes but you see clt is the only non wn infested thing US has…





non infested hub.





Wn gets entrance to Dca with the merger too…