Southwest Airlines takes over AirTran

Tyler Higbee, Staff Writer

     September 27, 2010 was a day the air would change forever.  On Monday, Southwest Airlines agreed to buy AirTran Airlines for $1.4 billion.

     Before the deal was final, Southwest Airlines carried the most passengers of all American airlines and adding the city of Atlanta won’t hurt their lead since Atlanta is the busiest hub in the nation.   Atlanta tends to bring in more business travelers who are willing to pay more for airfares.  Southwest also gained a large portion of big cities like New York and Boston, where it had previously been expanding.  Also they gained routes internationally to Mexico and the Caribbean.  This buyout could mean that in cities like Boston, New York and Baltimore travelers might have to spend more due to competing airlines. At Tampa International Airport, AirTran offers direct flights from Tampa to Denver, Colorado at about $600 round trip. Southwest is expected to keep the same flights but lower the rates. With this change, Southwest Airlines said they will drop the bag fees that AirTran had.  AirTran charged a $20 fee for the first checked bag and $25 for the second checked bag.  For all you cheap fliers, that sounds like a deal to me.

     Even though Southwest had gained all of AirTran’s routes and passengers, Southwest remains the number four airline by traffic.  Southwest will pay approximately $670 million with available cash and will pay $2 billion in AirTran’s debt.  This deal is expected to close in the first half of next year.