News Release Issued: May 22, 2012 12:17 PM ET
Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, And Boeing Capital Reach A Tentative Agreement To Sublease AirTran Boeing 717 Fleet
717s Would Depart the Southwest Fleet Beginning Mid-2013
DALLAS, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) confirmed today that the airline, together
with its subsidiary, AirTran Airways, Inc., has reached a tentative agreement with Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Boeing Capital Corp., to sublease all 88 of its Boeing 717 aircraft to Delta. A final agreement is subject to Delta and Southwest reaching certain agreements with all parties related to the aircraft leases. The tentative agreement between Southwest and Delta would transition the 717s over three years starting in the second half of 2013 with completion in 2015.
“This is a very complex transaction that requires time and close coordination with multiple parties. While we do have a tentative agreement with Delta, final details must be completed with all parties before a binding agreement between Delta and Southwest can be completed,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest Airlines’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
A transition of the 717s was an option that the airline acknowledged when it executed its fleet agreement with the Boeing Co. The plan calls for the transition of approximately three 717 aircraft per month beginning in mid-2013. Southwest is not releasing any additional details about the tentative agreement at this time. The Company currently plans to keep the total fleet count relatively flat as the 717s transition to Delta.
Southwest’s plans to integrate current AirTran Employees into the Southwest operation over the next several years remain unchanged. All Pilots would train and transition directly into the airline’s 737 fleet as the 717s are reduced. AirTran Flight Attendants and Maintenance personnel are currently trained on both aircraft types. Southwest would replace AirTran’s 717 flying with 737 aircraft, and would work with individual airports on facilities transition timelines. Southwest affirms its current plans to maintain service to all previously announced airports.