Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has announced that it is taking the next step in its marriage with subsidiary, AirTran Airways. Customers are now able to purchase a growing number of itineraries between the Southwest and AirTran networks for travel on a single itinerary. Soon, Customers will be able to book flights to any of the airlines’ combined 97 destinations, including international, in one transaction.
“Connecting the networks is a priority in 2013 and a major milestone as we work to combine our two Companies,” said Bob Jordan, Chief Commercial Officer at Southwest Airlines and President of AirTran. “With a connected network, we can offer Customers more itineraries, more destinations, more low fares, and a taste of what’s to come once the integration is complete.”
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways took the first step in connecting their networks on January 26, 2013, by offering a small number of shared itineraries in five markets. The initial phase was successful, and the airlines are prepared to launch in 39 cities on February 25, 2013. The airline is on pace to fully connect the networks in April.
By connecting the Southwest and AirTran networks, Customers may:
- Add one or more AirTran domestic flight segments to a Southwest itinerary, using Southwest booking channels (southwest.com, 1-800-IFLYSWA, travel agencies, Southwest’s mobile site and apps, and Southwest Airlines ticket counters).
- Book one or more Southwest flight segments connecting to an AirTran itinerary, using AirTran channels (airtran.com, 1-800-AIRTRAN, AirTran Airways ticket counters, and travel agencies).
- Use all Southwest channels to book an AirTran-only domestic itinerary.
- Add an international AirTran segment to a Southwest itinerary within a single reservation, through a Customer-friendly transfer of the transaction to AirTran channels for booking, purchase, and ticketing by AirTran.
- Earn currency in either loyalty program no matter which carrier they fly. (The currency a Customer earns is determined by the carrier from which they buy their ticket, even if flying on a shared itinerary.)
As is standard with industry “code share” arrangements, the Marketing Carrier’s rules and policies apply to reservations and ticketing. The Operating Carrier’s procedures apply to boarding, seating, and the onboard experience. Southwest is making one exception: any itinerary with a Southwest segment or that is purchased through a Southwest point-of-sale channel will not have bag fees for the first or second checked bag (weight and size restrictions apply).
Southwest Airlines announced plans to acquire AirTran Airways on September 27, 2010, an acquisition that significantly expanded Southwest Airlines’ low-fare service to more Customers in more domestic markets, creating hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public. Since Southwest Airlines closed the deal to purchase AirTran Airways on May 2, 2011, Southwest and AirTran Employees have worked hard to guarantee a thoughtful and smooth integration process while providing the same high level of Customer Service that Customers have come to expect. To date, Southwest Airlines has welcomed 29 percent of AirTran Employees to the Southwest Family, has converted 11 AirTran Airways 737-700 aircraft to the Southwest paint scheme and interior configuration, and has transitioned five AirTran Airways-served cities into Southwest Airlines operations.
The process of a full integration of the AirTran Airways 737 fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet (i.e. paint scheme and interior configuration) and transition to a single ticketing system is a large and complex process that is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. Southwest Airlines realized $142 million of net, annualized, pre-tax synergies during 2012, and expects to achieve $400 million in 2013 (excluding acquisition and integration expenses).
Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. All visuals for AirTran Airways, including aircraft, will be gone by the end of 2014. The Boeing 717 fleet will be leaving sooner for Delta Air Lines. Southwest will not operate or integrate the Boeing 717s. Therefore many of the special color schemes on the 717s will be retired when the aircraft are removed from the AirTran fleet. The pictured ex-TWA 717-231 N925AT (msn 55079, ex N412TW) displays the special “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” color scheme at Baltimore/Washington.