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Old September 11th, 2010, 06:09 PM   #681
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BWI sets all-time passenger record

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has set an all-time monthly passenger record when more than 2.17 million travelers passed through in July.

The record announced Wednesday was driven largely by Southwest Airlines. Airport officials say Southwest is the largest airline at the airport and served more than 1.17 million passengers in July. That's an 11 percent increase over July 2009.

Gov. Martin O'Malley says the milestone shows this is a strong and growing market for travel. Discount carriers, especially, have grown in popularity during the recession.

AirTran Airways is the second leading carrier at BWI. It counted nearly 384,000 passengers in July, an increase of 3.8 percent. The figure marked an all-time monthly record for AirTran at BWI.

Passenger traffic at BWI has increased for 13 of the past 14 months.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 04:18 AM   #682
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Southwest Closer To 737-800 Decision

The union for Southwest Airlines flight attendants has reached a tentative agreement with the carrier on pay rules and working conditions related to the use of larger aircraft, clearing one obstacle to an airline decision on whether to obtain Boeing 737-800s—assuming union members approve the deal.

The Transport Workers Union Local 556 says members will complete their vote no later than Dec. 1—Southwest’s self-imposed deadline for making a decision about the 737-800 to ensure it could get the first deliveries in 2012. The union’s executive board has unanimously approved the tentative deal.

The union says the tentative agreement ensures that the attendants’ contractual variable pay increase, which is tied to the company's 2010 financial performance, will not be less than 2%. The agreement also calls for company-paid training, the formation of a labor-management committee to address any ongoing work rule issues, and a one-year contract extension, the union says.

The extension would make the contract amendable as of May 31, 2013.

Southwest says the tentative deal moves it closer to a decision on the 737-800, but notes that it also needs to reach an agreement with its pilots union. Southwest says it also is still evaluating whether adding the bigger aircraft makes sense.

Under federal rules on aviation safety, any aircraft with more than 150 seats must have a fourth attendant, which is one reason Southwest has shunned the bigger aircraft in the past. Among the issues the labor-management committee for attendants would address are scheduling and bidding procedures that will be required for having a fourth flight attendant on board the bigger aircraft.

Southwest currently operates 737-300, -500 and -700 series aircraft with 122 to 137 seats. But it says it is considering the larger aircraft, and the added crew costs that would come with it, because of the potential advantages: allowing for additional capacity in high-demand, slot-controlled or gate-restricted markets, such as New York LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul or Boston.

Southwest said Sept. 15 that it is “continuing to evaluate network and configuration options” for the 737-800.”
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Old September 17th, 2010, 08:02 PM   #683
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UAL, Continental shareholders approve airline deal

By DAVID KOENIG and JOSHUA FREED, AP Airlines Writers David Koenig And Joshua Freed, Ap Airlines Writers – 49 mins ago
Shareholders of United and Continental airlines voted Friday to approve a combination of their companies that would create the world's biggest airline and could have far-reaching effects on where they fly and how much they charge passengers.

The companies expect the $3 billion stock swap to close in the next two weeks after tying up loose ends. Regulators in the U.S. and Europe have already signaled approval.

At both companies, the vote for the deal topped 98 percent.

With the voting over, the real work begins, including combining two separate groups of highly unionized workers, merging reservations systems and putting new paint jobs on the planes.

It likely will be some time before passengers notice much difference when they fly Continental or United. The companies expect it will be at least a year before federal authorities approve their request to fly as one airline, which will be called United and painted in Continental's colors.

Shareholders of United parent UAL Corp. will own 55 percent of the new company, to be called United Continental Holdings Inc. and based in United's hometown of Chicago. It will be led by Continental Airlines Inc. CEO Jeff Smisek.

The UAL acquisition of Continental will combine United's strength in the Midwest, the West Coast and across the Pacific with Continental's presence in Texas, the East Coast and routes to Europe and Latin America. The airlines hope that by forging a larger network, they will attract more top-dollar corporate travelers while reducing costs.

Smisek hinted at layoffs Friday, saying there will be overlapping jobs when the two combine, but he did not give any numbers.

There's also the matter of a lawsuit by several dozen passengers who claim that a United-Continental combination will lead to fewer flights and higher fares. A federal judge in San Francisco is scheduled to hear closing arguments Friday on a request to block the deal.

Even though United and Continental overlap on few routes, "losing a major competitor is likely to make prices rise — all things equal on the economy and fuel prices," said Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com.

Seaney noted that when Delta Air Lines Inc. bought Northwest Airlines in 2008 — which made Delta the biggest airline, for a while — the combined company reduced the supply of seats on U.S. flights. He expects the same to happen when United and Continental completely merge their operations.

The companies say they compete with low-cost carriers on about three-fourths of their U.S. routes, which will help keep fares down.

Measured by traffic - the number of miles flown by paying customers - the new United would leapfrog Delta, Air France-KLM and American Airlines to become the world's biggest airline.

Size is no guarantee of profits in the airline business. UAL and Continental together lost nearly $7 billion in 2008 and 2009 due to high fuel costs and the recession. Both returned to profitably last quarter, as fees and higher fares boosted revenue.

The history of the airline industry has been littered with mergers that didn't work out as well as planned.

American Airlines parent AMR Corp. bought TWA during a recession in 2001. Within a few years, American had dropped TWA's St. Louis hub and furloughed most of the TWA workers. The 2005 deal to combine US Airways and America West is still plagued by animosity between the two labor groups.

Continental and United talked about a merger in 2008, but Continental — the smaller but more financially secure of the two — walked away from the table. Talks resumed this year after Delta's acquisition of Northwest seemed to go smoothly, creating a more powerful competitor.

UAL and Continental stock will continue to trade until the deal closes, at which time Continental shareholders will get 1.05 shares in the new United for each Continental share they owned.


Koenig reported from Dallas, and Freed reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press Writers Juan A. Lozano in Houston and Don Babwin in Elk Grove Village, Ill., contributed to this report.

Stephane Charbonnier, “I'd rather die standing up than live on my knees.”
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Old September 18th, 2010, 06:16 PM   #684
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Good Bye Continental and old united, Hello new airline.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 08:09 PM   #685
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Old September 20th, 2010, 10:33 PM   #686
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How the new livery will look

It is a pretty bland livery, but here is how it will look on the 747-400, 767-300 and a319.



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Old September 21st, 2010, 01:42 AM   #687
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Love the new livery, looks nice and fresh.
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Old September 21st, 2010, 04:24 AM   #688
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Southwest Airlines should buy Sun Country

* Sun Country would give Southwest int'l routes-analyst
* Southwest would gain 5.2 pct share in Minneapolis
* Southwest's shares would jump if co buys Sun Country

Southwest Airlines should scoop up bankrupt Sun Country Airlines to buttress Southwest's growing presence in Minneapolis and boost its shares, a Stifel Nicolaus analyst wrote on Monday.

Buying Sun Country would also give Southwest access to some international routes, Stifel analyst Hunter Keay said.

Minnesota-based Sun Country filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2008. About 95 percent of its capacity flies to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, an area that Southwest has targeted for modest growth, Keay wrote.

Southwest and Sun Country did not immediately reply to e-mails for a comment.

Delta dominates the Minneapolis airport, but assuming roughly half of Delta's traffic comes from passengers connecting to other flights, Southwest would gain a 5.2 percent share of the local market if it bought Sun Country, Keay said.

Even with the added gain, Southwest's market share in Minneapolis would still lag Delta's, Keay wrote, but buying Sun Country would still boost prices on routes flown to the 32 cities served by Southwest and Sun Country.

An acquisition could jump-start Southwest's shares, which have underperformed the broader Arca Airline Index .XAL this year. Southwest stock has risen 5 percent so far in 2010, while the Arca Airline Index has jumped 23 percent.

Sun Country reports its strongest results in the first quarter, when the carrier caters to people from Minnesota flying to a warmer climate, Keay wrote. The first quarter is Southwest's weakest.

If Southwest buys Sun Country, it would also gain 11 new destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, Keay wrote.

Dallas-based Southwest does not currently fly internationally, but on a July conference call, Chief Executive Gary Kelly said the carrier would decide this year whether it would fly routes abroad. [ID:nN29174195]

Prospects for the broader airline industry have brightened this year, helped by the merger of United Airlines' parent UAL Corp (UAUA.O) and Continental Airlines (CAL.N). Experts say consolidation helps the industry trim excess capacity, which helps shore up air fares.

In 2009, Southwest tried to buy Frontier Airlines out of bankruptcy. Southwest was eventually beat out by Republic Airways Holdings Inc
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Old September 21st, 2010, 04:35 AM   #689
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Don't think it looks bland. What would you call American Airlines then? But sometimes bland is better. I don't like airlines who go overboard with their paint scheme. You want a design that looks classic, like it's been around for awhile, but still has a touch of modernity. This is a solid, solid look with a much improved font. The one thing they should be careful about is to not make the belly too grey. It should be a touch darker than the main body to distinguish it, but it shouldn't be a very dark shade of grey.
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Old September 21st, 2010, 05:26 AM   #690
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Originally Posted by Almaden View Post
It is a pretty bland livery, but here is how it will look on the 747-400, 767-300 and a319.



I like the United livery for the 744 but the Continental livery for the 777/767. Probably because we're not used to seeing 744s for CO.

The new livery looks simpler, not as grand as the strong hues of the UA livery. It seems to me the CO livery is more suited to tropical destinations, while the UA livery to temperate destinations, especially during winter. It's easier to spot them from afar.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 12:16 AM   #691
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Merger speculation: Will Southwest buy Sun Country Airlines?

Southwest targeting leisure carrier Sun Country Airlines for a merger or takeover? Southwest has made no such indication, but one Wall Street analyst thinks the carrier should.

Reuters writes Stifel Nicolaus analyst Hunter Keay thinks Southwest should acquire Minnesota-based Sun Country, a move he says would bolster Southwest's presence in Minneapolis/St. Paul and -- more broadly -- boost the value of the its shares. Reuters adds that "buying Sun Country would also give Southwest access to some international routes currently flown by Sun Country, [Keay] said."

Keay made his comments in a research note released Monday. In it, he makes it clear that "we have no knowledge" of any merger efforts by Southwest for Sun Country or any other airline. But, he says research by his firm suggests Sun Country is a "tailor made acquisition candidate" for Southwest.

Among the reasons Keay thinks Sun Country would be a good fit for Southwest: Sun Country's presence in the Twin Cities, a recently added Southwest market; complementary fleets and route networks; and that Southwest could "easily afford" the acquisition.

Keay also cites Sun Country's seasonal business. He says in his research note that "most passengers on Sun Country are leisure passengers from Minnesota that travel to North American warm weather markets in an attempt to escape the harsh winters of Minneapolis."

Because of that, Sun Country's strongest quarter tends to be the first quarter, which is Southwest's weakest. Picking up that business, he argues, would presumably improve Southwest's performance during that period.

Keay also notes Sun Country has nearly a dozen international routes -- ranging from Cancun to London -- that Southwest presumably could pick up in an acquisition.

Southwest has publicly said it's considering adding international service in the foreseeable future, thought it's not clear how close Southwest is to having its systems ready to handle such routes.

As for Sun Country, the airline is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, though a court approved its reorganization plan on Friday. Sun Country officials predict a brought future with new planes and plans for growth.

"We're going to be growing the company by adding three permanent airplanes and that's going to create over 100 new jobs at Sun Country Airlines," CEO Stan Gadek tells Minnesota Public Radio. "We're very proud of that and it reflects the successful turnaround that we've had here at Sun Country Airlines."

But could Sun Country's bankruptcy exit set the stage for an acquisition? The Minneapolis Star Tribune writes the approved reorganization plan "gives a court-appointed receiver about 75% of the stock, and it sets the stage for an eventual sale of Sun Country to a new owner. … Receiver Doug Kelley said Friday that the airline is on the market

This is a continuation of the article I posted yesterday.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 12:18 AM   #692
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What are your thoughts of this possible merger/take over of Sun County airlines. Has anyone ever flown on Sun County before? Tell me and everybody else about your experience.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 09:46 AM   #693
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Ok now the livery looks ok to me. The font made a HUGE difference and it seems that they simplified the globe but that could just be me. I look forward to seeing it someday. It does look a lot like Delta or Air France or Lufthansa with its basic name on white in the front and a tail with the logo on it, but I suppose this simplicity is what I find attractive.
"San Diego...drink it in, it always goes down smooth" - Ron Burgundy
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 06:01 AM   #694
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I rather prefer this livery than the Continental, which is more serious. I even prefer Continental as brand airline, further than United. The first one has a great service (at least to Buenos Aires in my experiences). It would have been better if the name was Continental with United livery...

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Old September 26th, 2010, 04:18 AM   #695
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San Antonio-to-Orlando flight diverts to Tampa for blessed event

Tampa, Florida - A Southwest Airlines flight diverted to Tampa Friday afternoon after a passenger went into labor, an airline spokesman said.

Flight 126 was scheduled to fly from San Antonio to Orlando, but changed course when the passenger reported labor pains and the pilot declared a medical emergency.

A spokesman said a doctor was aboard the plane and stayed with the woman until the flight landed at Tampa. An ambulance took her to St. Joseph's Hospital.

The woman was not identified, and, without a name, the hospital was unable to provide information about her or her baby.

She, her traveling companion and two other children were heading to Orlando to make a connecting flight in to the northeast, the spokesman said.

Congratulations to the women and hope the baby is okay and hopes she has a happy time with the baby.
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Old September 27th, 2010, 04:24 AM   #696
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Southwest Airlines Southwest pondering international routes

NEW YORK - Southwest Airlines, which reported a higher-than-expected profit on Thursday, said it would push for more business travelers over the next year and consider flying internationally.

The discount domestic airline has built its fortune on serving primarily vacationers and leisure travelers flying shorter routes. Over the past few years, Southwest has also turned its attention to business travelers.

The airline now sells a business select service that gives passengers priority boarding among other amenities. The company is looking to offer wireless Internet on its flights by around 2013 and upgrade its frequent flier program.

"We'll have a bigger push and a stronger message for business travel over the next 12 months," Chief Executive Gary Kelly said during a call with analysts and reporters.

Kelly also said during the call that the airline would decide this year whether to fly international routes. If the airline were to pursue routes outside the United States, it would take a multiyear effort, he said.

"We're built as an all-domestic carrier," Kelly told reporters during the call. "If we want to pursue international opportunities, it's a multiyear construction effort for us."

Shares were little changed, up 2 cents at $12.03 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock rose as much as 2.8 percent earlier in the session.


Southwest is the last major airline to report results for the second quarter. The airline industry has been able to command higher fares this year as travel demand bounced back.

For July, Southwest estimated that unit revenue would jump 17 percent, below what at least one analyst had forecast. The airline said July 2010 improvements were set against July 2009, a month when the company's operations began to improve.

Bookings for August and September appear strong, the airline said during the call.

Last year, carriers reduced capacity, as measured by available seat miles, to cut costs. Avoiding excess capacity is seen as key to the recovery for the industry.

Southwest said its capacity in 2010 would be even with 2009 levels. The company forecast no fleet growth in 2011 and a "modest" capacity increase, which Chief Financial Officer Laura Wright said during the call could be around 2 percent.

Southwest has no plans to increase its fleet in 2012.


In the second quarter, net income rose to $112 million, or 15 cents per share, from $91 million, or 12 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 21.1 percent to $3.2 billion.

Excluding costs related to the company's fuel hedge portfolio, the company earned 29 cents per share. The average estimate of analysts was 27 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Second-quarter unit costs, excluding special items, rose 13.6 percent due to a jump in fuel prices. The company received an $18 million refund from the Transportation Security Administration for excess security fees charged since 2005.
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Old September 28th, 2010, 02:18 AM   #697
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Southwest will buy AirTran in merger of low-cost rivals

An AirTran jet leaves Logan International Airport in Boston in this file photo.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) said Monday that it will buy smaller rival AirTran Airways (AAI) for nearly $1.4 billion, in a merger of low-cost carriers whose impact will be felt from fares to the number of flights available to millions of passengers.
The merger continues a trend of airlline consolidation, which has seen Continental and United Airlines announcing their intention to join operations Oct. 1, making it the largest airline in the world, and Delta and Northwest merging in 2008.

Feisty Southwest already carries more domestic fliers than any airline in the U.S.

"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," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said.

AirTran CEO Bob Fornaro stressed in a conference call with reporters Monday that AirTran had "done a lot with not much" in terms of financial resources, but it was becoming more uncertain that AirTran had the ability to grow and remain competitive in an industry where the size of a carrier's route network is increasingly important

By creating a truly nationwide, low-cost airline, the merger will make Southwest a tougher competitor in the lucrative domestic business travel market. Kelly expects more corportate fliers to take advantage of an expanded city network. And some fare watchers predict passengers will benefit from a broader reach for the carrier's low-cost strategy.

"America needs this now," says Tom Parsons of BestFares.com. "You could go from Rochester, N.Y., to somewhere on AirTran, and from Charlotte to somewhere on AirTran. But with this deal you can now go just about anywhere in the country, and to the Caribbean and Mexico, on Southwest.. . With the more than 100 destinations that Southwest will now have, all the legacy airlines will have to set their prices based on whatever Southwest does."

The deal stunned some travel experts, who worried that the union of Southwest and AirTran would force up fares now that two of the three largest low-cost carriers are uniting rather competing. And other airlines will likely be forced to consolidate to survive, further reducing alternatives for fliers.

"This is truly a shocker, and it can only mean further consolidation," says George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com. "I don't think anyone really saw this coming. More than any recent merger, it spells bad news for low fares, since both airlines were leaders in the low fare space and had frequent, almost weekly, sales. I can only imagine that now pressure is on for American to find a partner, and also US Airways, and that will lead to even less fare competition."

The cash and stock deal will allow Southwest to move into or plant a larger stake in primary travel hubs such as New York's La Guardia and Reagan National airport near Washington, D.C. It will also give Southwest entree into Atlanta, busiest passenger airport in the world, paving the way for the low-cost carrier to go head to head with Delta on that airline's home turf. AirTran, headquartered in Orlando but with its base of operations in Atlanta, had been Delta's only significant low-fare competitor there.

Southwest's acquisition of AirTran also would bring Southwest's informal, low-cost, low-fare service to Charlotte, another hub it has never served, and like Reagan National, a stronghold for US Airways.

Terms of the deal call for AirTran stockholders to get a combination of Southwest common stock and cash valued at $7.25 to $7.75 per share, depending on the price of Southwest stock prior to the merger. At least $3.75 will be cash, the companies say.

Southwest and AirTran said the combined airline would fly more than 100 million passengers out of more than 100 airports in the U.S., Caribbean and Mexico. In 2009, Southwest carried 101,338 passengers to AirTran's 23,998, the comanies say.

Southwest prides itself on not charging for the first two checked bags, and the merged airline will adopt that policy, eliminating AirTran's $20 charge for the first piece of luggage and $25 for the second.AirTran's planes will also become a single class, like Southwest, and be painted in Southwest's livery.

Southwest expects government approval of the deal sometime in the first half next year. After that, Kelly said it should take no more than 24 months for the carriers' operations to be fully merged.
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Old September 28th, 2010, 04:07 AM   #698
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Where Southwest Airlines and AirTran fly

Here are the 107 airports served by Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways, according to their September schedules. Airports served by both are in bold.
Airport (code) Airline

Akron/Canton (CAK) Airtran
Albany (ALB) Southwest
Albuquerque (ABQ) Southwest
Allentown (ABE) Airtran
Amarillo (AMA) Southwest
Aruba (AUA) Airtran
Asheville (AVL) Airtran
Atlanta (ATL) Airtran
Atlantic City (ACY) Airtran
Austin (AUS) Southwest
Baltimore (BWI) Both
Birmingham (BHM) Southwest
Bloomington (BMI) Airtran
Boise (BOI) Southwest
Boston (BOS) Both
Branson (BKG) Airtran
Buffalo (BUF) Both
Burbank (BUR) Southwest
Cancun Mexico (CUN) Airtran
Charleston (CRW) Airtran
Charlotte (CLT) Airtran
Chicago Midway (MDW) Both
Cleveland (CLE) Southwest
Columbus (CMH) Both
Corpus Christi (CRP) Southwest
Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) Airtran
Dallas/Ft. Worth (Love Field) (DAL) Southwest
Dayton (DAY) Airtran
Denver (DEN) Both
Des Moines (DSM) Airtran
Detroit (Metro Wayne) (DTW) Both
El Paso (ELP) Southwest
Flint (FNT) Airtran
Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) Both
Ft. Myers (Southwest Florida) (RSW) Both
Grand Rapids (GRR) Airtran
Gulfport/Biloxi (GPT) Airtran
Harlingen (HRL) Southwest
Harrisburg (MDT) Airtran
Hartford (Bradley) (BDL) Southwest
Houston (Hobby) (HOU) Both
Huntsville/Decatur (HSV) Airtran
Indianapolis (IND) Both
Jackson-Evers (JAN) Southwest
Jacksonville (JAX) Both
Kansas City (MCI) Both
Key West (EYW) Airtran
Knoxville (TYS) Airtran
Las Vegas (LAS) Both
Lexington (LEX) Airtran
Little Rock (LIT) Southwest
Long Island MacArthur (ISP) Southwest
Los Angeles (LAX) Both
Louisville (SDF) Southwest
Lubbock (Preston Smith) (LBB) Southwest
Manchester (MHT) Southwest
Memphis (MEM) Airtran
Miami (MIA) Airtran
Midland/Odessa (MAF) Southwest
Milwaukee (MKE) Both
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) Both
Moline (MLI) Airtran
Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) Airtran
Nashville (BNA) Southwest
Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) Airtran
New Orleans (MSY) Both
New York Laguardia (LGA) Both
Newport News/Williamsburg (PHF) Airtran
Norfolk/Virgina Beach/Williamsburg (ORF) Southwest
Oakland (OAK) Southwest
Oklahoma City (OKC) Southwest
Omaha (OMA) Both
Ontario (ONT) Southwest
Orlando (MCO) Both
Panama City (ECP) Southwest
Pensacola (PNS) Airtran
Philadelphia (PHL) Both
Phoenix (PHX) Both
Pittsburgh (PIT) Both
Portland, Maine (PWM) Airtran
Portland, Ore. (PDX) Southwest
Providence (PVD) Southwest
Raleigh/Durham (RDU) Both
Reno (RNO) Southwest
Richmond/Williamsburg (RIC) Airtran
Rochester (ROC) Airtran
Sacramento (Metro) (SMF) Southwest
Salt Lake City (SLC) Southwest
San Antonio (SAT) Both
San Diego (SAN) Southwest
San Francisco (SFO) Both
San Jose (SJC) Southwest
San Juan, P.R. (SJU) Airtran
Santa Ana (John Wayne) (SNA) Southwest
Sarasota/Bradenton (SRQ) Airtran
Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) Both
Spokane (GEG) Southwest
St. Louis (STL) Both
Tampa (TPA) Both
Tucson (TUS) Southwest
Tulsa (TUL) Southwest
Tunica (UTM) Airtran
Washington (Reagan National) (DCA) Airtran
Washington(Dulles) (IAD) Both
West Palm Beach (PBI) Both
Westchester County (HPN) Airtran
Wichita (ICT) Airtran
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Old September 28th, 2010, 04:10 AM   #699
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Breaking: Southwest to acquire rival AirTranComments 162

Southwest planes at Baltimore/Washington International Airport in August 2007.CAPTIONBy Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY-UPDATE (8:36 a.m. ET): Southwest will buy AirTran for $1.4 billion in a cash-and-stock deal, a move that will consolidate the nation's two leading low-cost carriers.

With the deal, Southwest would be able to to add or expand service in in key markets, such as Atlanta, Washington Reagan National, New York LaGuardia and Boston.

FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Southwest Airlines to buy AirTran for $1.4B

The move would also allow Southwest to launch its first-ever international service by assuming AirTran's routes to Mexico and the Caribbean. And it would allow Southwest the option to pick up service to smaller markets -- such as Charleston, W. Va., Harrisburg, Pa., and Asheville, N.C. -- that are currently served by AirTran.

The airlines did not immediately say whether they intended to maintain all of the two carriers' combined destinations.

MORE ON MERGERS: Can Continental, United work out seamless merger? | United, Continental to help Southwest in Newark | Continental execs to get key roles in post-merger United

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says in a press release that "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."

Among new markets that would be gained by Southwest, Atlanta is among the most notable. The airport -- the world's busiest -- is the largest market that Southwest does not yet serve, and its acquisition would give it control of AirTran's sizeable hub there.

In Southwest's release, Kelly says the company senses "significant opportunities" there. It was not yet clear if Southwest would choose to maintain AirTran's hub operation there, or if it would seek to "de-hub" the city in a shift to the point-to-point service that is more common in its own route network.

Elsewhere, Southwest's acquisition of AirTran would give it increased access at slot-controlled New York LaGuardia and Washington National, both of which are preferred airports among many high-yield business travelers.

RELATED: Southwest attendants: AirTran deal is 'good news'

AirTran also would give Southwest new gates -- and room to grow -- in Boston, as well as helping the airline bolster its already strong presence on routes to Florida.

The deal would need to be cleared by U.S. regulators, and it's so far unclear how much the airlines might be pressured to divest -- if anything -- in order to clear antitrust concerns from the government.

Two sticking points on that topic could come at Baltimore/Washington International and Orlando. At BWI Southwest and AirTran are the airport's No. 1 and No. 2 carriers, respectively. Each also has a large presence in Orlando, which is also home to AirTran's headquarters.

Also to be resolved is what will happen to AirTran's checked-bag fees, assigned-seat policy and its business-class section. Southwest currently allows two checked bags for free and offers only open seating on its all coach-class aircraft.

Stay tuned for more details.

Southwest Airlines is buying AirTran for about $1.4 billion as it seeks entry into a number of smaller markets. The announcement comes [as] Continental Airlines and UAL's United [also plan to combine] amid an industrywide consolidation.

The companies said Monday that the new Southwest-AirTran operation would operate from more than 100 different airports and serve more than 100 million customers.

The deal is worth approximately $3.4 billion including AirTran's debt. It will pay about $670 million with available cash.

Southwest Airlines gets more exposure to existing markets like New York and Boston and it can get into smaller markets it doesn't already serve.

Shares of AirTran Holdings Inc. rose nearly 4% to $4.55 in premarket trading.

In the release, Southwest says "it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of AirTran Holdings, the parent company of AirTran Airways (AirTran), for a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines' common stock. "

Stay tuned to Today in the Sky for updates throughout the morning
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Old September 28th, 2010, 04:24 AM   #700
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 1,274
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Well my day was going so well right up to six o clock this evening when I saw this on my news channel. W!!!T!!F!!! is worng with the airlines now a days? Delta is having a rude awakening about this. So will US Airways. BWI is pretty much screw out of compettion of low cost carriers. So is MCO and MKE and FLL and RSW and countless others. I keep thinking that the US should have one national airline. We just keep on seeing mergers now a days. Get ready for the AA and US to have a nice little merger probbly coming soon to a airport near you. JetBlue and Froniter should merge to continue the trend. Southwest is just going to use Airtran to get into markets like MEM,CLT,CUN, and ATL. Southwest just wants intl routes. Maybe they should have brougt Sun County airlines. They will probbly just screw airports of flights just to get what they want. I wonder what the future hubs ( hahaha, maybe they will finally call a city a hub.) or focus cities will be. Stay tunes for more info. Dont forget the carolina airports they were going to serve. Stay flying my fellow readers.
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