At a news conference Monday, it was announced that Southwest Airlines is buying Orlando-based AirTran Holdings for $1.4 billion in the hopes of gaining entry into a number of smaller markets. Southwest Airlines and AirTran Holdings are two of the largest discount carriers in the United States.
This marks the second airline transaction in September with Continental announcing its merge with United earlier this month. Both moves will greatly affect where travelers can go and how much it will cost. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly predicts that the merger with AirTran will “generate hundreds of millions of dollars in fare savings annually” and “will provide low cost air fares to nearly all legacy hubs in the United States.” This merger will also give Southwest a major presence at one of the busiest airports in the country — Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport.
AirTran’s CEO Bob Fornaro comments,
This agreement is great news for our crew members, our shareholders and the communities we serve.
Although the deal has been given the green light by each company’s board of directors, it has not yet been approved by the AirTran stockholders. Once the deal becomes official, the new airline will have almost 43,000 employees. In a statement Monday, it was announced that the Southwest-AirTran group would serve more than 100 million travelers at more than 100 different airports.
Will this merger end up benefiting consumers or not? I guess we will have to wait and see.