— Southwest Airlines announced Sept. 27 that it will purchase AirTran Airways for approximately $1.4 billion. The purchase means carrier changes at Bishop International Airport where AirTran is the major airline, flying four times daily between Flint and Atlanta, its hub, as well as other destination locations around the country.
In a press release on Southwest Airlines’s website, the airline announced said the agreement was approved by the boards of directors of each company, and closing of the deal is subject to the approval of AirTran stockholders, receipt of certain regulatory clearances and fulfillment of customary closing conditions.
“Today is an exciting day for our employees, our customers, the communities we serve, and our shareholders,” said Gary C. Kelly, Chairman, president, and CEO of Southwest Airlines. “As we approach our 40th anniversary of providing exceptional customer service at everyday low fares, the acquisition of AirTran represents a unique opportunity to grow Southwest Airlines’ presence in key markets we don’t yet serve and takes a significant step towards positioning us for future growth.”
The purchase will significantly expand Southwest Airlines’ low-fare service to more customers in more domestic markets.
“This agreement is great news for our Crew Members, our shareholders, our customers and the communities we serve. Joining Southwest Airlines will give us opportunities to grow, both professionally as individuals and as a group, in ways that simply would not be possible without this agreement,” said Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways’ chairman, president and CEO. “This agreement with Southwest is a testament to the success and hard work of the more than 8,000 AirTran Crew Members who have built this airline. I am tremendously proud of the things we have accomplished together and look forward to continuing that great work during this next exciting chapter of our history.”
Until closing, Southwest Airlines and AirTran will continue to operate as independent companies. After closing, Fornaro will continue to be involved in the integration of the two companies.
Southwest Airlines plans to integrate AirTran into the Southwest Airlines Brand by transitioning the AirTran fleet to the Southwest Airlines livery, developing a consistent customer experience and consolidating corporate functions into its Dallas headquarters. Subject to receipt of necessary approvals, Southwest Airlines’ integration plans include transitioning the operations of the two carriers to a Single Operating Certificate. Plans for existing AirTran facilities will be developed by integration teams and decisions will be announced at appropriate times. The carriers’ frequent-flyer programs will be combined over time as well.