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Category Archives: AirTran Airways

Southwest Airlines launches Mexican flights to Cancun and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) launched its initial service to Mexico with inaugural flights over the weekend.  The nonstop routes previously served by wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways now operate daily between Orange County/Santa Ana and San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos, Mexico, and between Cancun and both Atlanta and Baltimore/Washington.

Saturday-only service on Southwest between Milwaukee and Cancun begins August 16, 2014.

The Company plans to fully convert all international and domestic service currently flown by AirTran to Southwest by the end of this year. The carriers’ flights schedules are published through March 6, 2015, and are available for purchase at southwest.com.

AirTran Airways continues to operate daily service between Mexico City and Orange County/Santa Ana until the route converts to Southwest Airlines service on Nov. 2, 2014.

Southwest Airlines began international service on July 1 with flights to Oranjestad, Aruba; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Nassau, The Bahamas, in the Caribbean. International service from Denver begins Oct. 7. Additional international service from Chicago (Midway), Austin, and San Antonio begins Nov. 2, the same day Southwest Airlines begins serving Punta Cana, Dominican Republic*, and Mexico City.

*subject to Government approvals

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-7H4 N228WN (msn 32496) departs from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

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Southwest reports record second quarter net income of $485 million

Southwest Airlines Company (Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways) (Dallas) today reported its second quarter 2014 results:

Record quarterly net income, excluding special items*, of $485 million, or $.70 per diluted share, compared to second quarter 2013 net income, excluding special items, of $274 million, or $.38 per diluted share. This exceeded the First Call consensus estimate of $.61 per diluted share.

Record quarterly net income of $465 million, or $.67 per diluted share, which included $20 million (net) of unfavorable special items, compared to second quarter 2013 net income of $224 million, or $.31 per diluted share, which included $50 million (net) of unfavorable special items.

Record quarterly operating income of $775 million. Excluding special items, record quarterly operating income of $819 million, resulting in a 16.3 percent operating margin**.

Return on invested capital*, before taxes and excluding special items, for the 12 months ended June 30, 2014, of 17.1 percent, as compared to 8.5 percent for the 12 months ended June 30, 2013.

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated:

“We are very pleased with our strong second quarter earnings performance. Net income, excluding special items, of $485 million, or $.70 per diluted share, represents our fifth consecutive quarter of record profits. The successful execution of our strategic initiatives continues to contribute significantly to these record profits. Second quarter 2014 total operating revenues reached an all-time quarterly high of $5.0 billion, benefiting from an 8.5 percent year-over-year increase in passenger revenues. Also, we were very pleased with our cost performance. Operating expenses benefited from our strategic initiatives, as well, and were comparable to second quarter last year.

“My hearty congratulations and thanks go to our hard-working and dedicated Employees for our outstanding second quarter results, which resulted in record quarterly profitsharing expense of $127 million. Over the last twelve months, our exceptional earnings performance, combined with our actions to prudently manage our invested capital, produced a 17.1 percent pre-tax return on invested capital, excluding special items (ROIC). This positions us well to meet or exceed our 15 percent pre-tax ROIC target for full year 2014.

“Our network development and optimization efforts continue, and we are very pleased with the performance across our system. Second quarter load factor and passenger revenue yield were records, even with a large percentage of the route system in the conversion or development stage. We announced our initial nonstop offerings from Dallas Love Field with the upcoming sunset of the Wright Amendment restrictions on October 13, and nearly tripled the flights we currently offer at Reagan National Airport, effective November 2 this year. On July 1, we inaugurated international service on Southwest Airlines, with flights to Oranjestad, Aruba; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Nassau/Paradise Island in The Bahamas. We plan to fully convert AirTran’s remaining international markets and domestic flying by the end of this year. We expect roughly flat 2014 available seat miles, year-over-year, and intend to expand the network in a disciplined manner. For 2015, we currently expect our available seat miles to increase, year-over-year, largely driven by a two to three percent growth in seats from the upgauging of our fleet, along with a higher percentage of our fleet in revenue service post-integration.

“During second quarter, we announced the selection of Amadeus to implement the Altéa reservations solution to support our domestic network, following the successful implementation of Amadeus’ international solution this year. This allows us to replace the legacy reservation system used by Southwest. The AirTran reservation system is expected to be retired at this year’s end.

“Our balance sheet, liquidity, and cash flows remain strong. At the end of second quarter 2014, we had $4.0 billion in cash and short-term investments. For first half 2014, net cash provided by operations was $2.46 billion, and capital expenditures were $907 million, resulting in strong free cash flow* of $1.55 billion. We repaid $119 million in debt and capital lease obligations during first half 2014, and intend to repay an additional $440 million in debt and capital lease obligations in the second half of this year. Thus far this year, we have returned $652 million to Shareholders through the payment of $97 million in dividends and the repurchase of $555 million in common stock. As always, we are committed to maintaining our financial strength and enhancing value to our Shareholders.”

Financial Results and Outlook

The Company’s second quarter 2014 total operating revenues increased 7.9 percent, while operating unit revenues increased 8.4 percent, on a 0.4 percent decrease in available seat miles and a 2.2 percent increase in average seats per trip, all as compared to second quarter 2013. Second quarter 2014 passenger revenues were $4.8 billion, which was an increase of 9.0 percent on a unit basis, as compared to second quarter 2013. A change to previously recorded estimates of tickets expected to spoil in the future resulted in additional passenger revenue of $47 million in second quarter 2014.

Thus far, July passenger revenue trends and bookings are strong. Based on these trends, and considering the strength of the year-ago comparison, the Company expects July 2014 passenger unit revenues to increase in the three percent range, as compared to July 2013.

Total operating expenses in second quarter 2014 increased 0.6 percent to $4.2 billion, as compared to second quarter 2013. Second quarter 2014 profitsharing expense was a record $127 million, compared to $78 million in second quarter 2013. The Company incurred costs (before profitsharing and taxes) associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, which are special items, of $38 million during second quarter 2014, compared to $26 million in second quarter 2013. Cumulative costs associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, as of June 30, 2014, totaled $466 million (before profitsharing and taxes). The Company expects total acquisition and integration costs to be approximately $550 million (before profitsharing and taxes). Excluding special items in both periods, total operating expenses in second quarter 2014 increased 0.7 percent to $4.2 billion, as compared to second quarter 2013.

Second quarter 2014 economic fuel costs were $3.02 per gallon, including $.05 per gallon in favorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts, compared to $3.06 per gallon in second quarter 2013, including $.05 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts. Based on the Company’s fuel derivative contracts and market prices as of July 21, 2014, third quarter 2014 economic fuel costs are expected to be in the $2.95 to $3.00 per gallon range, compared to third quarter 2013’s economic fuel costs of $3.06 per gallon. As of July 21, 2014, the fair market value of the Company’s hedge portfolio through 2018 was a net asset of $381 million. Additional information regarding the Company’s fuel derivative contracts is included in the accompanying tables.

Excluding fuel and oil expense, profitsharing, and special items in both periods, second quarter 2014 operating costs increased 1.1 percent from second quarter 2013, and increased 1.7 percent on a unit basis. Based on current cost trends, and excluding fuel and oil expense, profitsharing, and special items, the Company expects a year-over-year increase in its third quarter 2014 unit costs, comparable to the second quarter 2014 year-over-year increase.

Operating income in second quarter 2014 was $775 million, compared to $433 million in second quarter 2013. Excluding special items, operating income was $819 million in second quarter 2014, compared to $479 million in the same period last year, a 71.0 percent increase year-over-year.

Other expenses in second quarter 2014 were $29 million, compared to $70 million in second quarter 2013. The $41 million decrease primarily resulted from $3 million in other losses recognized in second quarter 2014, compared to $47 million recognized in second quarter 2013. In both periods, these losses included ineffectiveness and unrealized mark-to-market amounts associated with a portion of the Company’s fuel hedging portfolio, which are special items. Excluding these special items, second quarter 2014 had $15 million in other losses, compared to $12 million in second quarter 2013, primarily attributable to the premium costs associated with the Company’s fuel derivative contracts. Third quarter 2014 premium costs related to fuel derivative contracts are currently estimated to be $15 million, compared to $22 million in third quarter 2013. Net interest expense in second quarter 2014 was $26 million, compared to $23 million in second quarter 2013.

For the six months ended June 30, 2014, total operating revenues increased 5.2 percent to $9.2 billion, while total operating expenses decreased 0.4 percent to $8.2 billion, resulting in operating income of $991 million, compared to $503 million for the same period last year. Excluding special items, operating income was $1.1 billion for first half 2014, compared to $591 million for first half 2013.

Net income for first half 2014 was $617 million, or $.88 per diluted share, compared to $283 million, or $.39 per diluted share, for the same period last year. Excluding special items, net income for first half 2014 was $611 million, or $.87 per diluted share, compared to $328 million, or $.45 per diluted share, for the same period last year.

Balance Sheet and Cash Flows

As of June 30, 2014, the Company had $4.0 billion in cash and short-term investments, and a fully available unsecured revolving credit line of $1 billion. Net cash provided by operations during second quarter 2014 was $1.34 billion, and capital expenditures were $500 million, generating strong free cash flow of $838 million. The Company repaid $73 million in debt and capital lease obligations during second quarter 2014.

During second quarter 2014, the Company returned $282 million to its Shareholders through the payment of $42 million in dividends and the repurchase of $240 million in common stock, or 7.6 million shares. The Company completed its previous $1.5 billion share repurchase program with the repurchase of $20 million in common stock in early May. On May 14, 2014, the Company’s Board of Directors authorized a new $1 billion share repurchase program, along with a 50 percent increase in the Company’s quarterly dividend. Under the new $1 billion share repurchase program, the Company repurchased an additional $220 million in common stock during second quarter 2014, including $200 million repurchased under an accelerated share repurchase program with a third party financial institution. During second quarter 2014, pursuant to the accelerated share repurchase program, the Company advanced $200 million to the financial institution and received six million shares of the Company’s common stock, representing an estimated 75 percent of the shares the Company expects to purchase under the accelerated share repurchase program. The specific number of shares that the Company ultimately will repurchase under the accelerated share repurchase program will be determined generally based on a discount to the volume-weighted average price per share of the Company’s common stock during a calculation period to be completed during third quarter 2014. At settlement, under certain circumstances, the third party financial institution may be required to deliver additional shares of common stock to the Company, or under certain circumstances, the Company may be required to deliver shares of its common stock or may elect to make a cash payment to the third party financial institution. Pursuant to the settlement of the $200 million accelerated share repurchase program executed in first quarter 2014, the Company received an additional 1.7 million shares in common stock during second quarter 2014, bringing the total shares repurchased under the first quarter accelerated share repurchase program to 8.6 million.

Fleet

During second quarter 2014, the Company’s fleet increased by seven to 683 aircraft at period end. This reflects the second quarter 2014 delivery of 12 new Boeing 737-800s and three pre-owned Boeing 737-700s, as well as the retirement of one Boeing 737-500. In addition, the Company removed seven Boeing 717-200s from service during second quarter 2014 in preparation for transition out of the fleet.

Boeing 737 NG Delivery Schedule:

Southwest 737NG Delivery Schedule 7.2014 (LRW)

Notes:

*Additional information regarding special items is included in the accompanying reconciliation tables, and see Note Regarding Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures.
**Operating margin, excluding special items, is calculated as operating income, excluding special items, divided by operating revenues.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-7H4 N280WN (msn 32533) in the Penguin One special livery arrives in Los Angeles.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest converts more flights at Akron-Canton

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has converted four more destinations and added flights from Akron-Canton Airport (CAK). Southwest, the busiest airline operating out of CAK, now offers eight daily nonstop flights from the airport. Destinations with new or additional Southwest service from Akron-Canton include Boston (Logan), New York (LaGuardia), Orlando and Denver (a second seasonal round trip). To celebrate the largest single conversion from AirTran Airways to Southwest Airlines, CAK and Southwest officials will hold a British invasion themed press conference and all day long gate party on June 9. A Beatles® cover band, balloon twisting, trivia contest and colossal #CAKFab4 destinations display will greet customers as the depart and arrive throughout the day.

Southwest Airlines will take over all routes to/from CAK on November 2, 2014 as well as adding a daily nonstop flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The last AirTran Airways flight from CAK will be to Atlanta on November 1.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-7H4 N449WN (msn 32469) arrives in Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines announces new routes from Dallas and Washington’s Reagan National Airport, Mexico City and AirTran Airways final flight on December 28

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) adding to what we previously reported, today published dozens of new nonstop markets for Customers flying the carrier from Dallas Love Field and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The schedule also includes new Southwest Airlines service to an additional Caribbean destination—Punta Cana, Dominican Republic—as well as to North America’s largest metropolitan area, Mexico City (replacing AirTran Airways).

New, nonstop service for Dallas Love Field:

Beginning October 13, 2014, Southwest will offer nonstop service between Dallas and:

Baltimore/Washington (three roundtrips a day)
Chicago Midway (five roundtrips a day, up to six as of November 2)
Denver (three roundtrips a day)
Las Vegas (three roundtrips a day, up to four as of November 2)
Los Angeles (three roundtrips a day, up to four as of November 2)
Orlando (two roundtrips a day, up to three as of November 2)
Washington Reagan National (three roundtrips a day, up to six as of November 2)

Beginning November 2, 2014, Southwest will offer nonstop service between Dallas and:

Atlanta (four roundtrips a day)
Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (two roundtrips a day)
Nashville (two roundtrips a day)
New York LaGuardia (three roundtrips a day)
Phoenix (four roundtrips a day)
San Diego (two roundtrips a day)
Santa Ana/Orange County (one roundtrip a day)
Tampa (two roundtrips a day)

Southwest Airlines also announced today new nonstop service between Washington Reagan National Airport and both Akron/Canton and Indianapolis beginning on November 2, 2014, increasing the carrier’s service at Reagan National from a present day offering of 17 departures to 44 departures a day by year’s end to a total 14 destinations: Atlanta, Akron/Canton, Austin, Chicago Midway, Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Tampa.

Southwest Airlines also will add new nonstop service between Washington Dulles and both Las Vegas and San Diego, and to existing nonstop destinations of Chicago Midway and Denver.

Southwest Airlines continues its historic launch of international service with two additional destinations—Mexico City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic—to be added on November 2, 2014, to the carrier’s network map of more than 90 destinations across five countries in North America and the Caribbean.

AirTran Airways will be fully integrated into Southwest Airlines by the end of 2014:

AirTran Airways flight 1 (Southwest 5001) will operate on Sunday, December 28, 2014, as the carrier’s final scheduled departure. The evening flight from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Tampa reprises the first flight the carrier operated on October 26, 1993 (as ValuJet). Southwest Airlines Company announced its acquisition of AirTran Airways in September 2010, and closed the transaction on May 2, 2011. The FAA awarded the Company a single operating certificate for the two carriers on March 1, 2012, and the Company plans to close 2014 with wholly owned subsidiary AirTran fully-integrated into Southwest Airlines serving a network of 93 destinations in five countries.

Copyright Photo: Marcelo F. De Biasi/AirlinersGallery.com. Goodbye AirTran Airways. We now have the date when AirTran Airways will operate its last flight – December 28, 2014. The sun will set for AirTran in Tampa on that Sunday in December. Last flight 5001 is due to be operated with a 117-seat Boeing 717-200 (going to Delta on lease) departing ATL at 10:25 pm (2225) and arriving in TPA at 11:55 pm (2355). AirTran’s Boeing 717-2BD N996AT (msn 55140) soars into the sky at Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA).

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

 

Southwest Airlines Company reports record first quarter net profit of $126 million

Southwest Airlines Company (Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways) (Dallas) today reported its first quarter 2014 results:

Record first quarter net income, excluding special items*, of $126 million, or $.18 per diluted share, compared to first quarter 2013 net income, excluding special items, of $53 million, or $.07 per diluted share. This exceeded the First Call consensus estimate of $.16 per diluted share.

Record first quarter net income of $152 million, or $.22 per diluted share, which included $26 million (net) of favorable special items, compared to net income of $59 million, or $.08 per diluted share, in first quarter 2013, which included $6 million (net) of favorable special items.

Record first quarter operating income of $215 million; $242 million excluding special items.
Return on invested capital*, before taxes and excluding special items (ROIC), for the 12 months ended March 31, 2014, of 14.2 percent, as compared to 8.3 percent for the 12 months ended March 31, 2013.

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “I am delighted to report record first quarter earnings, which increased significantly year-over-year, despite the disruption caused by more than 7,500 of our flights canceled due to extreme weather conditions and the impact of the shift in timing of the Easter and Passover holidays. This outstanding performance was driven by record first quarter operating revenues of $4.2 billion, and a 1.2 percent year-over-year decline in total operating costs, excluding special items, driven largely by lower fuel prices and our ongoing fleet modernization. Our record first quarter operating income of $242 million, excluding special items, was very strong, especially considering an estimated $50 million unfavorable impact from winter storms. Operationally, our Employees did an outstanding job in difficult conditions taking care of our Customers, and I thank them again for their efforts.

“Our first quarter 2014 earnings performance is a superb start to the year and on plan to achieve a 15 percent pre-tax return on invested capital for the year, excluding special items. Second quarter 2014, benefiting from the Easter and Passover holidays, also is off to a great start, with strong bookings, favorable revenue trends, and stable fuel prices.

“Our balance sheet, liquidity, and cash flows remain strong. We are actively managing our debt and total invested capital, while making strategic investments that have already contributed significantly to our record profitability. We were pleased to return $371 million to Shareholders during first quarter 2014 through the payment of $56 million in dividends and the repurchase of $315 million in common stock. Since August 2011, we have returned $1.6 billion to our Shareholders through share repurchases and dividend payments.

“Our five strategic initiatives are on track and meeting or exceeding expectations. In January, we deployed our international reservation system and began selling Southwest’s inaugural international service to Aruba, The Bahamas, and Jamaica, scheduled to begin July 1, 2014. We quickly followed with selling Southwest service to Cancun and Los Cabos, scheduled to begin August 10, 2014. By the end of this year, we intend to fully convert AirTran’s seven international markets, along with its remaining domestic markets, to the Southwest route network. We have converted 21 of the 52 AirTran Boeing 737-700s to the Southwest Evolve configuration, and plan to convert the remaining 31 -700s this year (see below). This will complete the AirTran integration and retire the brand by the end of 2014.

“We have a significant amount of fleet activity planned this year, as we wind down the AirTran brand and continue to modernize our fleet, resulting in a larger than normal number of aircraft out of scheduled service. Accordingly, we expect relatively flat 2014 available seat miles, year-over-year.

“Our network development and optimization results, to date, have been excellent. We are excited about the opportunity to add new service to New York LaGuardia, Washington Reagan National, and Dallas Love Field this year, as well as to the international terminal under construction at Houston Hobby next year. Looking ahead to 2015, while we have not finalized our fleet and capacity plans, we have been managing to a baseline of 695 aircraft, which was our combined fleet at the time of the AirTran acquisition. We are planning year-over-year growth in our available seat miles derived from increased fleet utilization resulting from the completion of the AirTran integration and the increase in seats from the upgauging of our fleet. Of course, this will drive significant unit cost benefits.”

Financial Results and Outlook

The Company’s first quarter 2014 total operating revenues increased 2.0 percent, year-over-year, to $4.2 billion, despite an estimated $45 million reduction to revenues from weather-related cancellations. Operating unit revenues increased 3.1 percent, on a 1.1 percent decrease in available seat miles and a 2.6 percent increase in average seats per trip, all as compared to first quarter 2013. While the shift in the timing of the Easter and Passover holidays impacted March results, April bookings and revenue trends, thus far, are strong. Based on April’s trends and current bookings for the remainder of the second quarter, the Company expects another solid year-over-year increase in its second quarter 2014 operating unit revenues.

Total operating expenses in first quarter 2014 decreased 1.6 percent to $4.0 billion, as compared to first quarter 2013. First quarter 2014 total operating expenses included an estimated $5 million in net costs associated with winter storms. The Company incurred costs (before profitsharing and taxes) associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, which are special items, of $18 million during first quarter 2014, compared to $13 million in first quarter 2013. Cumulative costs associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, as of March 31, 2014, totaled $428 million (before profitsharing and taxes). The Company expects total acquisition and integration costs to be no more than $550 million (before profitsharing and taxes). Excluding special items in both periods, total operating expenses in first quarter 2014 decreased 1.2 percent to $3.9 billion, as compared to $4.0 billion in first quarter 2013.

First quarter 2014 profitsharing expense was $29 million, compared to $15 million in first quarter 2013. Profitsharing expense in first quarter 2014 was impacted by acquisition and integration costs incurred during that period. In addition, in accordance with the Company’s ProfitSharing Plan (the Plan), first quarter 2014 operating profit, as defined in the Plan, was reduced by a portion of the acquisition and integration costs incurred from April 1, 2011, through December 31, 2013, which will be amortized from January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2018.

First quarter 2014 economic fuel costs were $3.08 per gallon, including $.06 per gallon in favorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts, compared to $3.29 per gallon in first quarter 2013, including $.05 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts. Based on the Company’s fuel derivative contracts and market prices as of April 21, 2014, second quarter 2014 economic fuel costs are expected to be comparable to second quarter 2013’s economic fuel costs of $3.06 per gallon. As of April 21, 2014, the fair market value of the Company’s hedge portfolio through 2017 was a net asset of approximately $252 million. Additional information regarding the Company’s fuel derivative contracts is included in the accompanying tables.

Excluding economic fuel and oil expense, profitsharing, and special items in both periods, first quarter 2014 operating costs increased 2.4 percent from first quarter 2013, and increased 3.5 percent on a unit basis. Based on current cost trends, the Company expects both second quarter 2014 and full year 2014 unit costs, excluding fuel and oil expense, profitsharing, and special items, to increase, year-over-year, in the two to three percent range.

Operating income for first quarter 2014 was $215 million, compared to $70 million in first quarter 2013. Excluding special items, operating income was $242 million in first quarter 2014, compared to $112 million in the same period last year.

Other income in first quarter 2014 was $29 million, compared to $24 million in first quarter 2013. The $5 million increase primarily resulted from $53 million in other gains recognized in first quarter 2014, compared to $46 million recognized in first quarter 2013. In both periods, these gains primarily resulted from unrealized mark-to-market net gains associated with a portion of the Company’s fuel hedging portfolio, which are special items. Excluding these special items, first quarter 2014 had $16 million in other losses, compared to $5 million in first quarter 2013, primarily attributable to the premium costs associated with the Company’s fuel derivative contracts. Second quarter 2014 premium costs related to fuel derivative contracts are currently estimated to be in the $15 million to $20 million range, compared to $12 million in second quarter 2013. Net interest expense in first quarter 2014 was $24 million, compared to $22 million in first quarter 2013.

Balance Sheet and Cash Flows

As of April 23, 2014, the Company had approximately $3.5 billion in cash and short-term investments, and a fully available unsecured revolving credit line of $1 billion. Net cash provided by operations during first quarter 2014 was $1.1 billion, and capital expenditures were $407 million, which included the payment for slots acquired at Washington’s Reagan National Airport. The Company repaid $46 million in debt and capital lease obligations during the first quarter 2014, and intends to repay approximately $500 million in debt and capital lease obligations during the remainder of 2014, which includes $35 million paid on April 1, 2014, associated with eight of the Company’s Fixed-rate Boeing 717 Aircraft Notes due in 2017.

During first quarter 2014, the Company generated free cash flow* of $712 million. The Company returned approximately $371 million to its Shareholders through the payment of $56 million in dividends and the repurchase of $315 million in common stock, or 12 million shares, under its share repurchase program, including $200 million under an accelerated share repurchase program with a third party financial institution. In first quarter, pursuant to the accelerated share repurchase program, the Company advanced $200 million to the financial institution and received approximately seven million shares of the Company’s common stock, representing an estimated 75 percent of the shares the Company expects to purchase under the accelerated share repurchase program. The specific number of shares that the Company ultimately will repurchase under the accelerated share repurchase program will be determined generally based on a discount to the volume-weighted average price per share of the Company’s common stock during a calculation period to be completed by May 9, 2014. At settlement, under certain circumstances, the third party financial institution may be required to deliver additional shares of common stock to the Company, or under certain circumstances, the Company may be required to deliver shares of its common stock or may elect to make a cash payment to the third party financial institution. Since August 2011, the Company has repurchased $1.48 billion in common stock, or 124 million shares, under its $1.5 billion share repurchase authorization.

Fleet

During first quarter 2014, the Company’s fleet was reduced by five to 676 aircraft at period end. This reflects the first quarter 2014 delivery of two new Boeing 737-800s and six pre-owned Boeing 737-700s, as well as the retirement of one Boeing 737-300. In addition, the Company removed 12 Boeing 717-200s from service during first quarter 2014 in preparation for transition. Additional information regarding the Company’s aircraft delivery schedule is included in the accompanying tables.

Southwest 737-700 Fleet Table

Read the analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek: CLICK HERE

Top Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Southwest’s Boeing 737-7H4 N214WN (msn 32486) completes its final turn on the river approach into Washington’s Reagan National Airport (DCA).

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. AirTran’s Boeing 737-7BD N315AT (msn 35788) completes its final approach to the runway at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

 

AirTran Airways Captain Mike “Mad Dog” Watson retires, how to de-ice a Boeing 737

AirTran Airways (subsidiary of Southwest Airlines) Captain Mike “Mad Dog” Watson on his retirement flight. Mad Dog has been flying for over 52 years, and is best known for his legendary preflight announcements singing “Bad to the Bone” while playing his harmonica. Captain Watson was also recipient of the 2000 AirTran Excellence Award for his heroic efforts during an inflight emergency earlier that year.

Congratulations Mad Dog.

Top Video: Southwest Airlines.

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

Bottom Video: Southwest Airlines. How to de-ice a Boeing 737:

 

Southwest Airlines to retire the AirTran Airways name and brand by the end of this year

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) intends to retire the AirTran Airways name, brand and remaining international and domestic routes by the end of this year according to Southwest CEO Gary Kelly at his press conference announcing the first Southwest international routes.

Southwest acquired AirTran in 2011 and has been gradually transferring planes, people and routes to Southwest as it works on the integration.

It will be the end of the carrier and an era.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. With the lease transfer of the AirTran Boeing 717s to Delta Air Lines the special liveries are rapidly going away. AirTran was a big believer in the special schemes. Formerly with TWA, Boeing 717-231 N936AT (msn 55058) in the Indianapolis Colts NFL team colors arrives at Baltimore/Washington (BWI) in the past.

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

AirTran logo

Remaining AirTran routes from the Atlanta hub:

AirTran 1.2014 ATL Route Map

Video: A previous AirTran TV Commercial:

Video: A company video celebrating its 10th Anniversary back in 2010:

Southwest Airlines announces its first international routes to Aruba, Montego Bay and Nassau

Southwest Airlines (Atlanta) today announced its first-ever scheduled international flights.

Beginning July 1, 2014, Southwest Airlines will operate daily, nonstop flights between:

  • Atlanta and Aruba, and Montego Bay
  • Baltimore/Washington and Aruba, Nassau, and (twice daily) Montego Bay
  • Orlando and (Saturday only) Aruba, and Montego Bay

In this first phase of the Company’s international conversion plan, wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways will continue service between Atlanta and Nassau, between Chicago Midway and Montego Bay, as well as flights to/from Cancun, Los Cabos, andMexico City, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. By the end of 2014, the carrier plans to complete the launch of Southwest Airlines service to the remaining four international destinations on the Company’s network route map of 96 destinations in six countries. Both carriers’ full flight schedules are now open for booking through August 8, 2014.

The make-ready process for international service has involved nearly all of Southwest’s 45,000 Employees to implement additional technologies, training, and compliance, to obtain operational and regulatory approvals, and to ready the People, planes, and policies unique to Southwest Airlines to serve Customers in new countries.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-7H4 WL N280WN (msn 32533) in the Sea World “Penquin One” livery arrives at Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines announces new routes

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has announced its schedule through June 2014.  In the wake of the recent slot reallocation concerning New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Southwest is increasing service between LaGuardia and Nashville, Houston Hobby, Chicago Midway and Akron-Canton, Ohio. The new service begins on May 11, 2014.

Southwest Airlines also announced new nonstop service between San Diego and Orlando; New Orleans; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle/Tacoma. The new flights come as Southwest gets ready to celebrate its 32nd anniversary of serving San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.

The airline also is making waves in Portland, Oregon, by offering new nonstop destinations to Customers in the northwest. That includes the two daily nonstop flights to San Diego, as well as daily service to Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, and Houston Hobby.

As Southwest moves toward its final phase of integrating AirTran Airways, new nonstop service at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport includes service to Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh.

Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8H4 WL N8319F (msn 36994) lands at Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest launches new service from Memphis, Pensacola and Richmond

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) launched new flights this weekend in three cities that join the carrier’s network through previously established service by wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (Dallas).  The new routes complete a plan to bring Southwest Airlines service to all domestic cities in the Company’s network by year’s end, as the integration of Southwest and AirTran approaches its final phases.

As of November 3, 2013, Southwest Airlines offers new nonstop service between:

Pensacola and Nashville and Houston (Hobby)

Richmond and Orlando

Memphis and Baltimore/Washington, Houston (Hobby), Orlando, Chicago (Midway), and Tampa.

AirTran will continue service between Atlanta and Richmond International Airport, with four daily nonstop departures.  Southwest Airlines anticipates a full conversion in Richmond in the second half of 2014.

Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737-3H4 WL N352SW (msn 24888) in the Lone Star One motif lands in Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways flight attendants reach a tentative agreement

Southwest Airlines (LUV) has announced the flight attendants from AirTran Airways (Dallas), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines Company, have reached a tentative agreement on the collective bargaining agreement that became amendable in May 2013. AirTran flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA). This tentative agreement still requires membership ratification.

The parties have been in discussions since February 2013 on an agreement that would serve as a bridge for the AirTran flight attendants until they ultimately transition to Southwest Airlines. To date, more than 400 flight attendants have made the transition, while approximately 1,700 flight attendants remain in the AirTran partition. Southwest Airlines finalized the closing of the acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc., on May 2, 2011.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. The AirTran Boeing 737-700 fleet is also gradually transitioning to Southwest. The pictured 737-76N N279AT (msn 32666) is now N7719A with Southwest.

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Have you seen the “new look” AirlinersGallery.com?

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

Southwest Airlines reports a net profit of $224 million in the second quarter, removes the first AirTran Boeing 717

Southwest Airlines Company (Dallas) today reported its second quarter 2013 results.  Second quarter 2013 net income was $224 million, or $.31 per diluted share, which included $50 million (net) of unfavorable special items.  This compared to net income of $228 million, or $.30 per diluted share, in second quarter 2012, which included $45 million (net) of unfavorable special items.  Excluding special items, second quarter 2013 net income was a record $274 million, or $.38 per diluted share, compared to $273 million, or $.36 per diluted share, in second quarter 2012.  This was in line with the First Call consensus estimate of $.38 per diluted share.  Additional information regarding special items is included in this release and in the accompanying reconciliation tables.

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are  pleased to report record quarterly earnings of $274 million (excluding special items).  This performance benefited from all-time high operating revenues and lower fuel prices.  In addition, our focus on managing costs resulted in modest year-over-year cost inflation despite significant investments in fleet modernization and other strategic initiatives.  I commend our hard-working and dedicated Employees for their efforts to achieve these excellent results, while simultaneously executing on our strategic initiatives.

“While the lingering effects of government sequestration and higher taxes continued to be a drag on air travel demand, second quarter 2013 revenues and passenger traffic still reached record levels.  In addition, we are in the midst of integrating AirTran, launching new city-pairs, and optimizing the combined networks.  We maintained strong load factors and ended the quarter with a record June load factor of 85.0 percent, which is notable considering the increasing mix of larger gauge 737-800s and Evolve -700s.  Although the 2.4 percent year-over-year decline in second quarter unit revenues was below plan1, results improved throughout the quarter. Third quarter 2013 revenue trends are encouraging, thus far.  To date, July unit revenues are approximately three percent above last year’s July, benefiting from Southwest and AirTran network connections and our gradual combined network optimization.  Current bookings for the remainder of the third quarter also look solid.

“We remain on track with our plan to fully integrate AirTran into Southwest Airlines by the end of 2014.  We are on schedule to complete the conversion of AirTran’s Boeing 737-700s to the Southwest livery and deploy the Southwest international reservation system next year.  During second quarter, we transitioned one -700, bringing total aircraft conversions to 12 since the acquisition.  Seven more -700 conversions are planned for this year, with the remaining 33 planned for next year in conjunction with the conversion of AirTran’s eight international markets.  We will be transitioning AirTran’s 88 Boeing 717-200s out of the fleet, beginning next month.

“Connecting the Southwest and AirTran networks was a key milestone this quarter.  As of April 14, Customers can now fly across our combined 97 destinations on a single itinerary.  Our ability to optimize the combined networks and operations is enhanced significantly with connecting capabilities as we continue to transition AirTran markets to the Southwest network.  Earlier this week, we extended our 2014 flight schedule through early March and announced new Southwest service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, beginning in February, which will augment AirTran’s five daily nonstop flights.  During second quarter 2013, Southwest launched new service to Charlotte, North Carolina; Flint, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Rochester, New York; and Wichita, Kansas, which were all AirTran cities.  We also began operating Southwest’s first scheduled service outside of the continental United States, with daily service to San Juan, Puerto Rico, beginning April 14th.  By the end of 2013, we will have a Southwest presence in all AirTran domestic cities retained following the acquisition.  While much of the converted capacity represents new city-pairs, we expect these new routes to develop rapidly.  Our Cargo business also benefited from connecting the networks, coincident with the April 14th launch of cargo on AirTran under the Southwest brand.

“We are excited about our future network opportunities as we add international capabilities and continue the development of our domestic route network.  We were thrilled to be awarded the slot exemption from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin service between Houston Hobby and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport next month.  The introduction of this daily Southwest service will complete a triad of nonstop service options between Hobby and the Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. metro areas.

“We continue to make progress on our fleet modernization efforts.  During second quarter, we added three new Boeing 737-800s into service and retired two Boeing 737-300s.  We also removed the first AirTran 717 from active service during the quarter in preparation for its transition out of the fleet next month.  As of June 30, 2013, all Southwest Boeing 737-700s and 14 Boeing 737-300s have been retrofitted with the Evolve interior, and we plan to retrofit 64 additional -300s in the second half of this year.  In May, we announced revisions to our future aircraft delivery schedule, including the launch of the Boeing 737 MAX 7 in 2019, with three objectives in mind:  efficiently and aggressively manage our invested capital, shift the mix of new aircraft deliveries to the MAX, and replace Boeing 717s and Boeing 737s being retired over the next three years with more economical aircraft.  This includes augmenting our Boeing orders with the acquisition of pre-owned aircraft.  In line with our plan, available seat miles (capacity) for 2013 are estimated to increase two percent year-over-year as a result of larger gauge aircraft.  For 2014, we currently plan to keep our capacity in line with 2013 as we continue to optimize our network and execute our strategic plan.

“Our fleet modernization and other fuel conservation efforts resulted in a 4.1 percent improvement in second quarter available seat miles per gallon.  Second quarter economic fuel costs declined significantly to $3.06 per gallon, as expected, compared to second quarter 2012’s $3.22 per gallon.  Based on our fuel derivative contracts and market prices as of July 22, third quarter 2013 economic fuel costs are expected to be in the $3.05 to $3.10 per gallon range, which is below third quarter 2012’s $3.16 per gallon.

“Our second quarter unit costs, excluding fuel, special items, and profitsharing, increased 1.7 percent, compared to second quarter last year.  Based on current trends and benefits from our fleet modernization efforts, we expect our third quarter 2013 unit costs, excluding fuel, special items, and profitsharing, to increase slightly from third quarter 2012’s 7.72 cents.

“Our balance sheet and liquidity remain strong with approximately $3.7 billion in cash and short-term investments, as of yesterday, and a $1 billion fully available revolving credit facility.  Our second quarter cash flow from operations was $778 million, and capital expenditures were $193 million, resulting in $585 million in free cash flow2.  Our strong cash flow generation and record second quarter profits (excluding special items) reinforce the Board’s authorizations in May 2013 to increase our stock repurchase program from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, along with quadrupling our quarterly dividend to an estimated 1.2 percent annual yield (based on yesterday’s closing stock price of $13.76).  During second quarter 2013, we returned approximately $279 million to our Shareholders through the payment of $28 million in dividends and the repurchase of approximately $251 million, or approximately 18 million shares, under an accelerated stock repurchase program completed in June.  Since August 2011, we have repurchased approximately $975 million, or approximately 100 million shares, under our total $1.5 billion share repurchase authorization.”

Financial Results

The Company’s second quarter 2013 total operating revenues increased 0.6 percent to $4.6 billion, while operating unit revenues decreased 2.4 percent, on a 3.0 percent increase in available seat miles, and approximately four percent increase in average seats per trip, all as compared to second quarter 2012.  Total operating expenses in second quarter 2013 increased 1.3 percent to $4.2 billion, as compared to second quarter 2012.  The Company incurred costs (before taxes) associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, which are special items, of $26 million during second quarter 2013, compared to $11 million in second quarter 2012.  Cumulative costs associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, as of June 30, 2013, totaled $363 million (before profitsharing and taxes).  The Company expects total acquisition and integration costs to be no more than $550 million (before profitsharing and taxes).  Excluding special items in both periods, total operating expenses in second quarter 2013 were $4.2 billion, compared to $4.1 billion in second quarter 2012.

Second quarter 2013 economic fuel costs were $3.06 per gallon, including $.05 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements for fuel derivative contracts, compared to $3.22 per gallon in second quarter 2012, including $.04 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements for fuel derivative contracts.  The Company has derivative contracts in place for approximately 80 and 85 percent of its estimated fuel consumption in the third and fourth quarters of 2013, respectively.  As of July 22nd, the fair market value of the Company’s hedge portfolio through 2017 was a net asset of approximately $102 million.  Additional information regarding the Company’s fuel derivative contracts is included in the accompanying tables.

Excluding fuel, special items, and profitsharing in both periods, second quarter 2013 operating costs increased 0.7 percent from second quarter 2012, and 1.7 percent on a unit basis.

Operating income for second quarter 2013 was $433 million, compared to $460 million in second quarter 2012.  Excluding special items, operating income was $479 million for second quarter 2013, compared to $485 million in the same period last year.

Other expenses for second quarter 2013 were $70 million, compared to $92 million in second quarter 2012.  This $22 million decrease primarily resulted from $47 million in other losses recognized in second quarter 2013, compared to $62 million in second quarter 2012.  In both periods, these losses primarily resulted from unrealized mark-to-market gains/losses associated with a portion of the Company’s fuel hedging portfolio, which are special items.  Excluding these special items, other losses were $12 million in second quarter 2013, compared to $14 million in second quarter 2012, primarily attributable to the premium costs associated with the Company’s fuel derivative contracts. Third quarter 2013 premium costs related to fuel derivative contracts are currently estimated to be approximately $22 million, compared to $15 million in third quarter 2012.  Net interest expense declined to $23 million in second quarter 2013, compared to $30 million in second quarter 2012, primarily due to the repayment of AirTran aircraft financing facilities during the first quarter of 2013.

For the six months ended June 30, 2013, total operating revenues increased 1.4 percent to $8.7 billion, while total operating expenses increased 1.2 percent to $8.2 billion, resulting in operating income of $503 million, compared to $481 million for the same period last year.  Excluding special items, operating income was $591 million for first half 2013, compared to $495 million for first half 2012.

Net income for first half 2013 was $283 million, or $.39 per diluted share, compared to $327 million, or $.43 per diluted share, for the same period last year.  Excluding special items, net income for first half 2013 was $328 million, or a record $.45 per diluted share, compared to $255 million, or $.33 per diluted share, for the same period last year.

The Company’s return on invested capital (before taxes and excluding special items) was approximately nine percent for the twelve months ended June 30, 2013.  Additional information regarding pre-tax return on invested capital is included in the accompanying reconciliation tables.

For the six months ended June 30, 2013, net cash provided by operations was $1.8 billion, and capital expenditures were $727 million, resulting in free cash flow2 in excess of $1 billion.  The Company repaid $216 million in debt and capital lease obligations during first half 2013, and intends to repay approximately $100 million more in debt and capital lease obligations during the remainder of the year.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. A beautiful banking shot of Boeing 737-8H4 WL N8322X (msn 36997) completing the River Approach into Washington’s Reagan National Airport (please click on the photo for the full-size view).

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

Southwest to revamp its Atlanta schedules to better compete for business traffic against Delta

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) is changing its Atlanta operation in order to better compete against Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) for business customers. The airline, according to this Bloomberg report, will have no more than 20 aircraft on the ground at any time at ATL instead of current 30 (including the shrinking AirTran Airways). This will allow the 175 daily flights to be spread more evenly throughout the day according to the airline. The new strategy and schedule will become effective in November.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Fernandez Imaging. Boeing 737-3H4 N629SW in the second Silver One scheme taxies at Houston (Hobby).

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways connect their networks

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) announced today that it has successfully completed the connection between the Southwest and AirTran Airways networks. Customers are now able to purchase itineraries to the airlines’ combined 97 destinations, including international, in one transaction. The newly connected itineraries are on sale now via all Southwest and AirTran sales channels for service starting on April 14.

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways took the first step in connecting their networks on January 26, 2013, by offering a small number of connected itineraries in five markets. On February 25, 2013, the airline launched connected itineraries in 39 cities.

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
  • Book one or more Southwest flight segments connecting to an AirTran itinerary, using AirTran channels
  • 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 (where you buy your ticket) rules and policies apply to reservations and ticketing.  The Operating Carrier’s (which airline operates the flight) 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 facilitate 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 30 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: Michael B. Ing. Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737-8H4 WL N8309C (msn 36985) completes its final approach into Los Angeles International Airport.

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico (replacing AirTran)

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways announced an extension of flight schedules for travel through November 1, 2013. In extending both carriers’ bookable inventory, Southwest introduces four new nonstop routes, including the first Southwest service from Des Moines to the West through Las Vegas, and the return of seasonal service in three markets. The carrier also announced new Southwest Airlines service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and San Juan, a conversion from AirTran service in the market, beginning on September 29, 2013.  Southwest Airlines begins its initial service in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 14 with nonstop service between both Tampa Bay and Orlando.  AirTran introduces additional seasonal flying to and from Florida.

Southwest’s new markets:

  • Two daily nonstop flights between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and San Juan
  • One daily nonstop flight between Nashville and Pittsburgh
  • One daily nonstop flight between Atlanta and San Diego
  • One daily nonstop flight between Des Moines and Las Vegas
  • One daily nonstop flight between Jacksonville and Chicago

Southwest’s returning seasonal markets:

  • One daily nonstop flight between Indianapolis and Orlando
  • One daily nonstop flight between Jacksonville and Las Vegas
  • One daily nonstop flight between Orlando and Minneapolis-Saint Paul

AirTran’s new markets:

  • Seasonal service between Orlando and Houston (Hobby)
  • Seasonal service between Orlando and New Orleans
  • Seasonal service between Fort Myers and Columbus
  • Seasonal service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Pittsburgh

Top Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 WL N944WN (msn 36659) with extra “Free Bags Fly Free” markings arrives on runway 9L at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. The special AirTran schemes are not expected to survive the integration into Southwest. The pictured Boeing 737-7BD WL N354AT (msn 36725) in the special Georgia Aquarium  “Dolphin 1″ scheme is due to become N7724A with Southwest.

Southwest Airlines to expand its code-share with subsidiary AirTran Airways

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.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Grand Rapids to join the Southwest Airlines network on August 11

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) announced today that Grand Rapids, Michigan is the next AirTran Airways (Dallas) city to be converted to Southwest service.  Those flights from Grand Rapids to Baltimore/Washington, Denver, Orlando, and Saint Louis will begin on August 11, 2013.  AirTran service in Grand Rapids will end the previous day, August 10, 2013.

From Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR), fly Southwest Airlines Nonstop to:

  • (BWI) Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • (DEN) Denver International Airport
  • (MCO) Orlando International Airport
  • (STL) Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

Additionally, AirTran expands operations in Memphis with new nonstop flights between Memphis and Chicago (Midway), Baltimore/Washington, and Orlando, beginning on August 11, 2013.  In Memphis, AirTran currently offers five daily nonstop flights to Atlanta.

Southwest also will begin nonstop service between Flint, Michigan and Las Vegas starting on August 11, 2013. Bishop International Airport (FNT) in Flint is currently served by AirTran Airways and will convert to Southwest Airlines service on April 14, 2013. Inaugural service from Flint will also include nonstop service to Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, and Tampa Bay.

Top Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney. Boeing 737-3H4 N609SW (msn 27929) in the California One motif lands at Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Southwest Airlines is also phasing out the AirTran Airways’ Boeing 717 fleet. The 717s will gradually migrate to Delta Air Lines. Boeing 717-2BD N946AT (msn 55009) painted in the special livery of the world champion Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL) climbs away from the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

Southwest Airlines achieves its 40th consecutive year of profitability

Southwest Airlines Company (Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways) (Dallas) today reported its fourth quarter and full year 2012 results.  Fourth quarter 2012 net income was $78 million, or $.11 per diluted share, which included $13 million (net) of favorable special items.  This compared to net income of $152 million, or $.20 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2011, which included $86 million (net) of favorable special items.  Excluding special items, fourth quarter 2012 net income was $65 million, or $.09 per diluted share, which was comparable to fourth quarter 2011.  This exceeded the First Call consensus estimate of $.08 per diluted share.  Additional information regarding special items is included in this release and in the accompanying reconciliation tables.

For the full year of 2012, net income was $421 million, or $.56 per diluted share, which included $4 million (net) of favorable special items. This compared to $178 million, or $.23 per diluted share, in full year 2011, which included $152 million (net) of unfavorable special items.  Excluding special items, full year 2012 net income was $417 million, or $.56 per diluted share, compared to net income of $330 million, or $.43 per diluted share, for full year 2011.  Operating income for full year 2012 was $623 million, compared to $693 million for full year 2011.  Excluding special items, operating income for full year 2012 was $838 million, which was comparable to full year 2011.

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “2012 was a year of tremendous progress.  Our profits (excluding special items) of $417 million grew 26 percent as compared to 2011 and represented our 40th consecutive year of profitability.  Without a doubt, this is a remarkable feat and a record unmatched in the airline industry.  These solid earnings were achieved despite significant efforts and costs related to critical strategic initiatives.  I expect these initiatives to produce substantial returns over the next several years.  For 2012, these initiatives contributed to the 49 percent surge in our cash flow from operations to $2.1 billion. We ended the year with fourth quarter profits (excluding special items) of $65 million, which was in line with our year ago performance.

“I was very pleased with our operational performance for the year and our Customer Service delivery. Both were exceptional, especially considering the amount of work involved with our initiatives.  I am deeply grateful to all of our People for their extraordinary efforts and a truly remarkable year.

“Our fourth quarter 2012 operating revenues were a fourth quarter record $4.2 billion, bringing full year 2012 operating revenues to more than $17 billion.  Our strong fourth quarter 2012 operating revenue performance was driven by record yields, continued high load factors, and an impressive freight revenue performance.  As with the full year profits, these strong revenues were achieved despite the transitional state of the AirTran route network.  While there was much change in 2012, significant optimization efforts are planned in 2013 for the AirTran network.  As we enter 2013, bookings and revenue trends, thus far, suggest a year-over-year improvement in January 2013 passenger unit revenues in the two to three percent range. While the effect of U.S. tax increases on the domestic economy remains uncertain, bookings for the remainder of first quarter, thus far, are strong.

“Our economic fuel costs, including fuel taxes, were $3.32 per gallon for fourth quarter 2012, and $3.28 per gallon for full year 2012, compared to $3.29 per gallon and $3.19 per gallon for the respective year-ago periods.  Based on market prices as of January 18th, our first quarter 2013 economic fuel costs, including fuel taxes, are estimated to be approximately $3.30 per gallon, as compared to $3.44 per gallon for first quarter 2012.  While current fuel price levels are very high, the year-over-year decline estimated for first quarter 2013 economic fuel costs is an encouraging trend.

“As expected, our fourth quarter 2012 unit costs, excluding fuel, profitsharing, and special items, increased 5.8 percent, as compared to fourth quarter 2011.  While we expect a similar trend in first quarter 2013, year-over-year unit cost inflation, excluding fuel, profitsharing, and special items, is expected to significantly ease for full year 2013 as we complete our Evolve interior cabin retrofits and begin to more fully realize benefits from our fleet modernization efforts.

“While we continue to transform our Company with a bold five-year strategic plan that began in 2011, we remain committed to the pillars of our success—outstanding Customer Service; safe, reliable, and efficient operations; and low costs. We are on track with our plan to fully integrate AirTran into Southwest Airlines by the end of 2014.  We realized $142 million of net, annualized, pre-tax synergies during 2012, and we expect to achieve our $400 million target in 2013 (excluding acquisition and integration expenses).  This month, we are on track to begin testing connecting itineraries between the Southwest and AirTran networks in a handful of markets, with significant offerings planned in February and more in March.  Once fully implemented in April, we expect the connected networks to contribute incremental revenue in 2013 and provide significant opportunities to optimize the combined network.  Our fleet modernization initiatives are on schedule with 259 Southwest 737-700 aircraft retrofitted with our new 143-seat Evolve cabin.  We expect to have all 372 of Southwest’s 737-700 aircraft retrofitted with Evolve by June and 78 of our 737-300 aircraft retrofitted by the end of 2013. We currently have 34 737-800s in our fleet with plans to grow to 54 this year and 78 next year.  We have equipped 400 Southwest aircraft with Row 44 WiFi technology, providing our Customers access to satellite-based WiFi and live television.  We intend to significantly grow our inflight entertainment offerings in 2013.  We are thrilled with the Customer feedback and incremental revenue generated from our All-New Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program that was installed in 2011.  Our international reservation system implementation is on track for 2014, and we continue to make great progress on implementing our new revenue management program in 2013.  Also, we’ve announced new 2013 revenue streams: selling open A1 through A15 premium boarding positions and a new service charge for reuse of funds associated with restricted tickets that are not canceled (or changed) prior to departure.  Collectively, we expect our strategic initiatives and new revenue streams to contribute the majority of the planned $1.1 billion year-over-year revenue increase in 2013.  I am enthused about our 2013 plan and believe our transformation efforts will make us better, stronger, and more competitive.

“Our financial position remains strong with $3 billion in cash and short term investments.  We generated $716 million in free cash flow* during 2012, and we expect healthy free cash flow* in 2013.  We remain focused on enhancing Shareholder value through capital efficiency and our targeted 15 percent pretax return on invested capital.

“We believe in our strategic plan.  And, the outstanding efforts, commitment, and dedication of our People exhibited in 2012 gives me confidence in our ability to successfully execute this plan. The year 2012 was a year of dramatic accomplishments that I believe positions us to be stronger than ever.”

Notable 2012 accomplishments for Southwest Airlines include:

  • 40th consecutive year of profitability
  • 83.1 percent Ontime Performance
  • Recognized with numerous awards and recognitions, most notably being named Customer Service Champions by JD Powers, included in the 2012 Customer Service Hall of Fame by MSN Money, and named one of America’s Top 500 Companies by Barrons
  • Received Single Operating Certificate in March 2012; ten months after AirTran acquisition close
  • Launched 737-800 operations in March (34 aircraft currently in service)
  • Converted 259 Southwest 737-700s to new 143-seat Evolve configuration (including progress thus far in 2013)
  • Continued equipping aircraft with satellite-based WiFi technology, reaching the 400thinstallation in January 2013 (including AirTran conversions)
  • Earned flag status and began selling service to Puerto Rico (to be launched April 2013)
  • Launched Southwest service to Atlanta, Akron-Canton, and Dayton
  • Received slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and began service
  • Launched AirTran service to Austin, Orange County, Mexico City, and Cabo San Lucas
  • Discontinued AirTran service to 14 airports
  • Resolved all seniority list integrations
  • Converted 11 AirTran 737-700s to the Southwest livery with Evolve configuration
  • Converted four AirTran stations to Southwest: Seattle, Dulles, Des Moines, and Key West
  • Announced plans to convert seven more AirTran stations in 2013: Phoenix, Branson, Charlotte, Flint, Portland (Maine), Rochester, and Wichita
  • Converted 26 percent of the AirTran workforce to Southwest
  • Harmonized all Customer policies between Southwest & AirTran
  • Opened new Pilot and Flight Attendant crew bases at Denver International Airport
  • Selected Amadeus for International Reservation system for 2014 implementation
  • Completed 717 sublease/lease deal with Delta
  • Received Houston City Council approval for Hobby international terminal
  • Deferred $1 billion in capital spending
  • Returned $422 million to Shareholders through repurchasing $400 million of common stock (approximately 46 million shares) and distributing $22 million in dividends

Financial Results and Outlook

AirTran Airways, Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company on May 2, 2011. Results discussed in this release and provided in the accompanying unaudited Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements and Comparative Consolidated Operating Statistics include the results of operations and cash flows for AirTran beginning May 2, 2011, including the impact of purchase accounting.  Full year 2011 results do not include AirTran’s results prior to the acquisition date.  However, the Company believes the analysis of specified financial results on a “combined basis” provides more meaningful year-over-year comparability.  Full year 2011 financial information presented on a “combined basis” is the sum of the historical financial results of the Company and AirTran for periods prior to the acquisition date, but includes the impact of purchase accounting beginning May 2, 2011.  Supplemental financial information presented on a “combined basis” and the accompanying reconciliations are included in this release.

The Company’s total operating revenues in fourth quarter 2012 increased 1.6 percent to $4.2 billion, compared to $4.1 billion in fourth quarter 2011.  Operating unit revenues increased 1.9 percent from fourth quarter 2011. Based on current bookings and revenue trends, the Company expects a solid year-over-year increase in its first quarter 2013 unit revenues.

Total fourth quarter 2012 operating expenses were $4.1 billion, compared to $4.0 billion in fourth quarter 2011.  Excluding special items in both periods, fourth quarter 2012 operating expenses increased 2.4 percent from fourth quarter 2011.

Fourth quarter 2012 economic fuel costs, including fuel taxes, were $3.32 per gallon, including $.09 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements for fuel derivative contracts, compared to $3.29 per gallon in fourth quarter 2011, including $.12 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements for fuel derivative contracts.  Based on market prices as of January 18, 2013, the Company expects first quarter 2013 economic fuel costs, including fuel taxes, to be approximately $3.30 per gallon, including $.05 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements for fuel derivative contracts.  First quarter 2013 premium costs related to fuel derivative contracts, recorded in Other (gains) losses, are currently estimated to be approximately $5 million, compared to premium costs of $6 million in first quarter 2012.  As of January 18, 2013, the fair market value of the Company’s hedge portfolio through 2017 was a net asset of approximately $216 million, compared to a net asset of approximately $220 million at December 31, 2012.  Additional information regarding the Company’s fuel derivative contracts is included in the accompanying tables.

Fourth quarter 2012 profitsharing expense was $19 million, which was comparable to fourth quarter 2011.  Excluding fuel, profitsharing, and special items in both periods, fourth quarter 2012 unit costs increased 5.8 percent from fourth quarter 2011.  Based on current cost trends, the Company expects a similar year-over-year increase in its first quarter 2013 unit costs, excluding fuel, profitsharing and special items in both periods.

Operating income for fourth quarter 2012 was $91 million, compared to $147 million in fourth quarter 2011.  Excluding special items in both periods, operating income was $136 million for fourth quarter 2012, compared to $167 million in fourth quarter 2011.  The Company incurred $14 million in special charges (before taxes) during fourth quarter 2012 associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran.

Other income for fourth quarter 2012 was $34 million, compared to $108 million in fourth quarter 2011.  This $74 million decrease primarily resulted from $62 million in gains recognized in fourth quarter 2012, compared to $153 million in fourth quarter 2011.  In both periods, these gains primarily resulted from unrealized mark to market gains/losses associated with a portion of the Company’s fuel hedging portfolio, which are special items.  Excluding these special items, other losses were $3 million in fourth quarter 2012, compared to $15 million in fourth quarter 2011, primarily attributable to the premium costs associated with the Company’s fuel derivative contracts.  Net interest expense declined to $28 million in fourth quarter 2012, compared to $45 million in fourth quarter 2011, primarily as a result of the Company’s repayment of its $400 million notes in December 2011 and the redemption of its $385 million notes in March 2012.

Total operating revenues for full year 2012 increased 9.1 percent to $17.1 billion, while total operating expenses increased 10.0 percent to $16.5 billion, resulting in operating income of $623 million, compared to $693 million for full year 2011.  For full year 2012, special charges (before taxes) associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran were $183 million, bringing cumulative costs incurred to $324 million (before profitsharing and taxes).  The Company expects total acquisition and integration costs will be no more than $550 million.  Excluding special items, operating income was $838 million for full year 2012, compared to $839 million for full year 2011.  Excluding special items and compared to combined results for the same period in 2011, total operating revenues for full year 2012 increased 3.0 percent, while total operating expenses increased 3.1 percent, resulting in a 0.5 percent increase in operating income for full year 2012.

The Company’s return on invested capital (before taxes and excluding special items) was approximately 7 percent for the year ended December 31, 2012.  Additional information regarding pretax return on invested capital is included in the accompanying reconciliation tables.

Net cash provided by operations for full year 2012 was $2.1 billion, and capital expenditures were $1.3 billion.  As a result, the Company generated $716 million in free cash flow* in 2012.  During 2012, the Company paid $22 million in dividends, which was a 57 percent increase over the year ago period.  The Company also repurchased approximately 46 million shares of common stock for approximately $400 million.  The Company repaid $578 million in debt and capital lease obligations during 2012, and intends to repay approximately $205 million in debt and capital lease obligations in 2013, including approximately $70 million in first quarter 2013.  As of January 23rd, the Company had approximately $3 billion in cash and short-term investments, and a fully available unsecured revolving credit line of $800 million.

Southwest Airlines Fourth Quarter 2012 Awards and Recognitions

  • Recognized as one of the 2012 Green Rankings Top 500 US Companies by Newsweek
  • Named to G.I. Job’s 2013 Top 100 Military Friendly Employers
  • Ranked first in America’s Happiest Airlines for Holiday Travel by Forbes for the third consecutive year
  • Recognized with the Employees Choice Awards Best Place to Work 2013 by Glassdoor.com
  • Named one of the Five Most Likeable Companies of 2012 by Likeable Media
  • Named one of the National Conference on Citizenship’s The Civic 50 for use of time, talent, and resources in civic engagement

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough. Boeing 737-8H4 WL N8313F (msn 38810) prepares to touch down at Baltimore/Washington. The airline currently operates 34 737-800s with plans to grow to the 737-800 fleet to 54 this year and 78 next year.

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways to fly from Chicago Midway to both Montego Bay and Punta Cana

Southwest Airlines Company (Dallas) has announced new nonstop service between Chicago (Midway) and both Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The flights, subject to governmental approvals, will be operated by Southwest’s wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways.

AirTran Airways nonstop flights between Chicago (Midway) and Montego Bay*:

  • Begin Sunday, April 14
  • Will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays

AirTran Airways nonstop flights between Chicago (Midway) and Punta Cana*:

  • Begin Sunday, May 19
  • Will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays

*air service subject to governmental approvals

Southwest and AirTran currently operate a combined 200+ daily departures from Chicago (Midway) including daily service to Cancun, Mexico, which began in May 2012.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Boeing 737-7BD N295AT (msn 32677) of AirTran Airways arrives at the Atlanta hub.

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

AirTran Airways to fly Denver-Los Cabos starting on March 10

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, have announced new international flights between Denver International Airport (DEN) and Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) in Baja California, Mexico.

AirTran’s daily service on the new route begins on March 10, 2013.

AirTran Airways also currently serves SJD Los Cabos International Airport with daily service to/from Orange County (increasing to twice-daily as of June 2, 2013) and has flights between other destinations in the US and both Cancun and Mexico City.

Southwest Airlines began service to Denver on January 3, 2006, with 13 daily departures to three destinations.  The airline currently operates 163 daily flights to 54 destinations from Denver.  Southwest recently demonstrated its LUV for the state of Colorado by dedicating Colorado One, a specialty aircraft painted with the colors of the Colorado state flag (see below).

Top Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing. Boeing 737-7BD N290AT (msn 33925) of AirTran Airways completes its final approach into Los Angeles.

AirTran Airways: AG Slide Show

Southwest Airlines: AG Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo (click on the photos for the larger view): Mark Durbin. Colorado One in the form of Boeing 737-7H4 N230WN (msn 34592), taxies at San Francisco.

Southwest Airlines to push south to San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 14

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) now offers for sale nonstop service from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Orlando and Tampa, for travel beginning on Sunday, April 14, 2013.  Beginning in April, Southwest will operate three daily nonstop flights between Orlando and San Juan and one daily nonstop flight between Tampa and San Juan, as the carrier transitions these routes from AirTran Airways-operated city pairs.

AirTran Airways will continue to offer service between San Juan and Baltimore/Washington, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, and Atlanta. Southwest soon will determine the best time to convert the remaining AirTran flying to Southwest as part of the ongoing integration to eventually become one airline flying under the Southwest brand. AirTran Customers who booked flights between San Juan and Tampa Bay or San Juan and Orlando for travel beginning April 14, 2013, or later will be contacted by the airline and rebooked on Southwest flights.

AirTran began service at San Juan in March 2008 with service to Orlando and Atlanta. In February 2009, the carrier added service between San Juan and Baltimore/Washington. AirTran added San Juan service to Tampa Bay in April 2011 and to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood in May 2012.  Today, AirTran still offers a total of five daily nonstop flights to three markets from San Juan: Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington, and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (see below).

Top Copyright Photo: Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737-8H4 N8604K (msn 39883) taxies to the runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

AirTran Airways: 

Southwest Airlines: 

Bottom Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Boeing 737-7BD N313AT (msn 33927) departs the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The incredibly shrinking AirTran route map and future Southwest destinations:

Please click on the map to expand.

Four AirTran Airways cities convert to Southwest Airlines cities with new routes on April 14, 2013

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) announced today future service details affecting four AirTran Airways cities that will convert to Southwest Airlines service in the Spring of 2013.

Beginning April 14, 2013, Southwest Airlines nonstop service will be offered between:

  • Charlotte and Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway), Houston (Hobby), and Orlando
  • Flint and Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, and Tampa Bay
  • Portland, Maine and Baltimore/Washington
  • Rochester and Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway), Orlando, and Tampa Bay

AirTran service in these cities will end the previous day, April 13, 2013.

In addition to seasonal and other itinerary changes across the 97 destinations served by both carriers, AirTran’s international footprint grows with the new schedule to include new, daily service beginning April 14, 2013, between Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Baltimore/Washington, subject to applicable governmental approval.

Additional New Service on Southwest Airlines beginning April 14, 2013:

  • One daily nonstop flight between Boston Logan and Kansas City
  • One daily nonstop flight between Houston (Hobby) and Pittsburgh

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Boeing 737-7H4 N459WN (msn 32497) of Southwest Airlines taxies to the active runway at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

AirTran Airways: 

Southwest Airlines: 

Southwest arrives in Akron/Canton and Dayton

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has officially landed in two brand new destinations with its new service to Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) and Dayton International Airport (DAY).  The new service officially launched on Sunday, August 12, and the airline is celebrating the new service in both cities with press conferences at each airport this morning.  In Akron-Canton, Southwest will offer two daily roundtrip flights to Southwest’s sizable operation at Chicago Midway, as well as one daily roundtrip flight to Denver.  Likewise, the airline will begin service to Dayton with one daily flight to Denver.  Southwest’s service in both markets will complement AirTran Airways‘ existing service in these cities.  AirTran’s service will continue, and the airlines will jointly determine the best time to convert all AirTran’s flying to Southwest as part of the ongoing integration to eventually becoming one airline flying under the Southwest brand.

AirTran began service at Akron-Canton in 1997 and started serving Dayton in 1998.  Today, AirTran offers 11 daily flights from Akron-Canton in addition to the three daily Southwest flights.  From Dayton, today AirTran offers eight daily flights in addition to the daily Southwest flight to Denver.

Copyright Photo: Nick Dean. Boeing 737-7H4 N918WN (msn 29843) in the Illinois One special livery arrives at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac).

Southwest: 

AirTran: 

Southwest to start Kansas City-Minneapolis/St. Paul service on February 14

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways announced today that they have extended their flight schedules for travel between February 14, 2013, and March 8, 2013. In the schedule, Southwest will begin new service between Kansas City and Minneapolis-St. Paul with two daily nonstop flights. Both carriers also will begin new seasonal routes as listed below.

Southwest’s new market:

  • Two daily nonstop flights between Kansas City and Minneapolis-St. Paul

Southwest’s new seasonal markets include:

  • One daily nonstop flight between Albuquerque and Orlando
  • One daily nonstop flight between Albany and Las Vegas
  • One daily nonstop flight between Hartford/Springfield and Las Vegas
  • One daily nonstop flight between Long Island/Islip and Ft. Myers
  • One daily nonstop flight between West Palm Beach and Pittsburgh
  • One daily nonstop flight between West Palm Beach and Providence
  • One daily nonstop flight between Providence and Ft. Myers

AirTran’s new seasonal markets include:

  • Two daily nonstop flights between Chicago Midway and Ft. Myers
  • One daily nonstop flight between Detroit and Ft. Myers

Copyright Photo: Fernandez Imaging.

Southwest Airlines: 

AirTran Airways: 

AirTran adds more flights on the Baltimore/Washington-Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood route

AirTran Airways (subsidiary of Southwest Airlines) (Dallas) has announced more options for Baltimore Customers looking to get to Florida, AirTran Airways will add as many as four daily nonstop flights between Baltimore/Washington and Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood beginning on September 6, 2012, through the end of its published schedule on February 13, 2013. The new flights will add to AirTran’s existing three daily roundtrip flights between the markets.

With the September flight schedule, Southwest Airlines will operate three daily nonstop flights between Baltimore/Washington and Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood for a combined total of up to ten daily roundtrip BWI-FLL flights between the carriers.

Southwest Airlines began service to Baltimore/Washington on Sept. 15, 1993, with ten daily nonstop departures to two cites. Since then, Southwest has grown its operation to more than 170 daily nonstop departures to nearly 50 cities. Southwest has nearly 3,000 Employees at BWI, and has a plane dedicated to the state, Maryland One.

Top Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Boeing 737-7BD N281AT taxies to the runway at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.

AirTran Airways: 

Southwest Airlines: 

Bottom Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Maryland One arrives at Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways aircraft maintenance technicians ratify Seniority Integration Agreement

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) announced the Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMT) from Southwest Airlines, represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), and AirTran Airways (Dallas), represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Local 528, voted to ratify their Seniority Integration Agreement. This agreement integrates the two groups’ seniority lists. Southwest Airlines finalized closing of the acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc., on May 2, 2011.

AMFA represents approximately 1,750 Southwest Airlines Aircraft Maintenance Technicians, and the IBT represents close to 500 Mechanics from AirTran Airways.

Today’s vote by the AMTs means they now join the Pilots, Flight Attendants, Flight Instructors, Dispatchers, and Ramp, Operations, Provisioning and Freight Agents as having successfully completed the Seniority Integration negotiation process. Work groups still in seniority integration negotiations include Customer Service Agents and Customer Support and Service Employees and Materials Specialists.

This moves the merger one step closer.

Top Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

Southwest Airlines: 

AirTran Airways: 

Bottom Copyright Photo: Jay Selman. The AirTran Boeing 717s will not be painted in Southwest’s livery.

Southwest Airlines to fly to Key West, Florida, announces its winter schedule

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (Dallas) announced today new nonstop routes as they extend their flight schedules for travel bookings through January 4, 2013. Southwest also announced that it will begin service to Florida’s Key West Airport (EYW) on November 4, 2012, assuming all flying from AirTran. Southwest will operate one daily nonstop departure to Tampa Bay (TPA) and one daily nonstop departure to Orlando (MCO). In addition, Southwest will add new service between several markets (details below).

Southwest’s new markets include:

  • Two daily nonstop flights between Dallas Love Field and Harlingen
  • One daily nonstop flight between Denver and Louisville
  • Two daily nonstop flights between Houston Hobby and Indianapolis
  • One daily nonstop flight between Houston Hobby and Orange County
  • One daily nonstop flight between Kansas City and New Orleans

Southwest assumes flying from AirTran:

  • One daily nonstop flight between Key West and Orlando
  • One daily nonstop flight between Key West and Tampa Bay
  • Two daily nonstop flights between Boston Logan and Milwaukee
  • One daily nonstop flight between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Milwaukee
  • Five daily nonstop flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Milwaukee
  • One daily nonstop flight between San Francisco and Milwaukee
  • One daily nonstop flight between Orlando and Minneapolis-St. Paul

AirTran has also made adjustments to its flight schedule to accommodate seasonal demand to several destinations.

AirTran’s seasonal new markets include:

  • One daily nonstop flight between Buffalo and Tampa Bay
  • One daily nonstop flight between Akron-Canton and Ft. Myers
  • One daily nonstop flight between Columbus and Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood
  • One daily nonstop flight between Columbus and Tampa Bay
  • One daily nonstop flight between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Indianapolis
  • One daily nonstop flight between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Philadelphia
  • One daily nonstop flight between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay
  • One daily nonstop flight between Rochester and Tampa Bay
  • Four weekly nonstop flights between Flint and Ft. Myers
  • Four weekly nonstop flights between Grand Rapids and Ft. Myers

Top Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

Bottom Copyright Photo: Tony Storck.

Southwest: 

AirTran: 

AirTran Airways launches new international flights from San Antonio, Austin, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Orange County and Chicago Midway

AirTran Airways (Dallas), a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines (Dallas), announced today that the carrier is officially kicking off brand new international service from several markets including San Antonio, Austin, Orange County, California, and Chicago Midway, as well as new service between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The new routes were announced last winter and service details are outlined below. Today’s departure out of San Antonio International Airport marks AirTran’s first international destination and flight from the airport. The international service also brings AirTran service to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County for the first time.

San Antonio New Service:

  • Beginning May 24, AirTran will operate four weekly nonstop flights between San Antonio (SAT) and Cancun (CUN) with service Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Beginning Sept. 1, 2012, through the end of the current schedule*, the carrier will operate three weekly nonstop flights on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Also beginning May 24, AirTran will operate one daily nonstop flight between San Antonio and Mexico City (MEX).

Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood New Service:

  • Beginning May 24, AirTran will launch service between Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) and San Juan, Puerto Rico, (SJU) with two daily nonstop flights.

Austin New Service:

  • Beginning May 25, AirTran will launch inaugural service to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) with four weekly nonstop flights between Austin and Cancun on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays through Aug. 31, 2012. Beginning Sept. 1, 2012, through the end of the schedule, the carrier will operate the service on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Orange County New Service:

  • Beginning June 3, AirTran will operate one daily nonstop flight between John Wayne Airport in Orange County (SNA) and Mexico City and one daily nonstop flight between Orange County and Cabo San Lucas/San Jose del Cabo (SJD).

Chicago Midway New Service:

  • Beginning June 3, AirTran will operate one daily nonstop flight between Chicago Midway (MDW) and Cancun.

*Current schedules are available for booking through Nov. 2, 2012.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Delta Air Lines to lease and operate all 88 AirTran Airways Boeing 717s

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) will become a new Boeing 717 operator as Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has found a way to dispose of the 88 Boeing 717-200s operated by its subsidiary AirTran Airways (Dallas).

Southwest confirmed today that the airline, together with its subsidiary, AirTran Airways, Inc., has reached a tentative agreement with Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Boeing Capital Corp., to sublease all 88 of its Boeing 717 aircraft to Delta. A final agreement is subject to Delta and Southwest reaching certain agreements with all parties related to the aircraft leases. The tentative agreement between Southwest and Delta would transition the 717s over three years starting in the second half of 2013 with completion in 2015.

A transition of the 717s was an option that the airline acknowledged when it executed its fleet agreement with the Boeing Company.  The plan calls for the transition of approximately three 717 aircraft per month beginning in mid-2013. Southwest is not releasing any additional details about the tentative agreement at this time.  The Company currently plans to keep the total fleet count relatively flat as the 717s transition to Delta.

Delta will use the 717s to replace inefficient 50-seat regional jets and some older McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51 aircraft still in service, on a capacity-neutral basis.

The tentative agreement also provides Delta with additional flexibility to acquire up to 70 larger two-class, 76-seat regional jets as the Boeing 717 aircraft are delivered to Delta. Delta currently operates 255 larger two-class regional jets; the fleet will be increased to 325 aircraft.

Delta will begin taking delivery of Boeing 717 aircraft as early as 2013 upon ratification of a new tentative agreement covering Delta’s more than 12,000 pilots. The tentative agreement was approved on May 21 by the Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Delta Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and now will be presented to pilots for review and ratification through June 30.

Southwest’s plans to integrate current AirTran Employees into the Southwest operation over the next several years remain unchanged. All Pilots would train and transition directly into the airline’s 737 fleet as the 717s are reduced. AirTran Flight Attendants and Maintenance personnel are currently trained on both aircraft types. Southwest would replace AirTran’s 717 flying with 737 aircraft, and would work with individual airports on facilities transition timelines. Southwest affirms its current plans to maintain service to all previously announced airports.

Because of this transaction, the AirTran 717s are not likely ever to wear Southwest’s livery.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Delta Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Airlines reports on the changes at AirTran Airways, signs agreement with Amadeus

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) yesterday (April 19) updated the status of AirTran Airways (now based at Dallas) at their conference call to discuss the first quarter earnings report. We will present some of the highlights concerning the AirTran integration:

According to Robert E. Jordan, as previously reported, Southwest received its single operating certificate (SOC) last month. According to Jordan, “to get to SOC at just 10 short months is remarkable”.

Southwest and AirTran will continue to operate as separate airlines. The SOC gives WN the ability to begin to combine the operations.

The first three AirTran Boeing 737-700s are now being repainted in the Southwest livery.

The first groups of AirTran pilots are currently in training to move to Southwest. 11 AirTran aircraft will transition to Southwest in 2012 and the majority of the remainder of those AirTran aircraft will transition to Southwest in 2013 and early 2014 according to Jordan.

Southwest now has agreements with its pilots, flight attendants and flight instructors for the integration.

24 airports and over 400 AirTran employees have now fully transitioned to Southwest Airlines.

Southwest has also added a number of new AirTran international routes, including Denver-Cancun that started earlier this week, and in the next 60 days, we’ll be adding San Antonio-Mexico City; San Antonio-Cancun or Orange County-Mexico City; Orange County-Cabo San Lucas and Midway-Cancun.

In other news (but related), Southwest and Amadeus IT Group announced that they have entered into a joint contract for Amadeus’ Altea reservations solution that would support the carrier’s international service.  Now that the contract is finalized, the two companies will work closely together to implement Amadeus’ technology to allow Southwest to operate international flights in 2014.

AirTran Airways, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, currently serves international destinations.  As the AirTran international flights transition to Southwest, Amadeus will support Southwest’s international flying.

While the Amadeus IT Group agreement focuses on the international element of Southwest’s reservation system, the contract also provides the option for Southwest to convert its domestic business to Amadeus in the future.

The Boeing 717-200s (below) are not likely to survive much longer with either AirTran or Southwest as Southwest does not see much added value for the type in the new Southwest. The type will probably be phased out gradually when the aircraft can be replaced or smaller routes dropped.

Southwest is also planning to operate the AirTran hub at Atlanta in a different manner. ATL will adopt the WN model for this hub.

Southwest is probably not done with eliminating AirTran’s underperforming routes. If the 717s are removed from the fleet some of the 717 routes will probably not transition to the larger 737s.

Top and Bottom Copyright Photos: Tony Storck.

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE


AirTran launches its first international route from Denver to Cancun

AirTran Airways (subsidiary of Southwest Airlines) (Orlando) announced today that the carrier is officially launching brand new international service between Denver International Airport and Cancun International Airport.  The new route was announced in February, and the first flight departed Denver International Airport today (April 16) at 10:40 a.m. MDT.  Today’s departure marks AirTran’s first international destination and flight from Denver International Airport.

Service Between Denver and Cancun:

  • Daily roundtrip service operates today through July 7, 2012
  • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday service starts July 8, 2012, through Aug. 12, 2012
  • Saturday and Sunday service starts Aug. 13, 2012, through the end of the schedule (currently Nov. 2, 2012)

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

AirTran Airways awarded DOT route authority for flights between Chicago Midway and Cancun

AirTran Airways (subsidiary of Southwest Airlines) (Orlando) has received route authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to operate new international flights between Chicago (Midway International Airport) and Cancun International Airport.  AirTran will offer one daily nonstop flight between the two cities beginning on June 3, 2012, subject to Mexican government approval.

With a current average of 246 daily departures at Chicago Midway, the combined AirTran/Southwest is the second largest carrier in the Chicago region. AirTran and Southwest currently operate nonstop service between Chicago Midway and a total of 58 cities.

In other news, parent Southwest has started converting the AirTran Boeing 737-700 cabin configurations to the Southwest standard.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Airlines will start service to Akron-Canton, Dayton and Des Moines

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (Orlando) announced revisions to upcoming summer and fall flight schedules that will provide the opportunity for Southwest Airlines to begin service to Akron-Canton Airport (CAK) and Dayton International Airport (DAY) beginning on August 12, 2012. Southwest’s schedule in Akron-Canton will offer two daily roundtrip flights to Southwest’s sizable hub operation at Chicago Midway and also Denver, with one daily roundtrip flight. Likewise, the airline will begin service to Dayton with one daily flight to Denver. Southwest’s service in both markets will complement AirTran’s existing service in these cities. AirTran’s service will continue, and the airlines will jointly determine the best time to convert all AirTran’s flying to Southwest.

Southwest Airlines also announced it will transition AirTran’s operation in Des Moines International Airport (DSM) to a Southwest operation with Southwest assuming all flying at the airport.  Beginning on September 30, 2012, Southwest will operate two roundtrip flights between Des Moines and Chicago Midway.

Southwest Airlines chose to begin service to CAK, DSM, and DAY to allow these markets to realize the benefits of the Southwest network, connecting them to large Southwest operations such as Chicago Midway and Denver.

In January, Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways confirmed plans for Southwest to continue operations at 22 AirTran markets where Southwest Airlines does not currently operate. In addition to DAY, CAK, and DSM, the markets that will eventually join the Southwest route map include:  Flint, Mich. (FNT); Rochester, N.Y. (ROC); Pensacola, Fla. (PNS); Charlotte, N.C. (CLT); Richmond, Va. (RIC); Key West, Fla. (EYW); Washington, D.C. (DCA); Memphis, Tenn. (MEM); Wichita, Kan. (ICT); Branson, Mo. (BKG); Portland, Maine (PWM); Grand Rapids, Mich. (GRR); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ); Cancun, Mexico (CUN); Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ); Aruba (AUA); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); Bermuda (BDA); and Nassau, Bahamas (NAS).  The airline will continue to make announcements over the next several years as it solidifies plans for these additional cities subject to labor negotiations.

Additionally, Southwest Airlines announced it will begin new seasonal flying between St. Louis and Panama City Beach as well as between Portland, Oregon, and Austin with one daily roundtrip each beginning June 3, 2012. Effective the same day, the airline also will add an additional seasonal roundtrip each on routes between Boston and St. Louis and between Dallas and Austin. Finally, AirTran’s new schedule includes additional frequencies out of Atlanta to markets such as Baltimore/Washington, Houston Hobby, Chicago Midway, Denver, and Los Angeles.

Southwest and AirTran are making the changes to continue aligning the two networks following Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran in May 2011. The airline saw opportunities throughout the summer schedule to utilize aircraft time and make adjustments to both flight schedules.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

AirTran leaves Newport News/Williamsburg for the last time

AirTran Airways (Orlando) operated it last flight from Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport last night. The last flight departed for Orlando. AirTran operated at the airport for 14 years, almost 17 years if ValuJet is counted.

The new PEOPLExpress Airlines is proposing to operate from this airport.

Read the full story from the dailypress.com: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

AirTran Photo Gallery: CLICK HERE

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines receive a single operating certificate from the FAA

AirTran Airways’ (Orlando) integration into Southwest Airlines (Dallas) reached a new milestone on March 1 as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington) issued a single operating certificate (SOC) (AOC) to Southwest. Technically this means the end of AirTran as a stand alone airline although the brand will continue for now and the two airlines will continue to operate two separate fleets with two work forces and two brands until the integration is complete.

Southwest issued the following statement:

“Southwest Airlines and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways announced on March 1 the carriers received approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a Single Operating Certificate (SOC), marking a key milestone in the integration of the two airlines.  The process of a full integration of the AirTran Airways fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet (i.e., paint scheme and interior configuration) is not complete and the transition to a single ticketing system is a large and complex process that will take several years to complete.

“While this is an important milestone and one that we are extremely proud to achieve, as a practical matter, most Employees and Customers will see little or no immediate difference in the two airlines’ flight operations, as allowed by having both carriers named on the Single Operating Certificate,” said Mike Van de Ven, Chief Operating Officer at Southwest Airlines.  “This will enable us to continue our integration in a coordinated and thoughtful manner while our Customers will continue to receive the highest level of service and Safety they have come to expect from both carriers.”

The FAA, Southwest Airlines, and AirTran Airways will address the following regulatory changes today:

  • The Southwest Airlines Air Carrier Operating Certificate will be amended to read “Southwest Airlines Co. and/or AirTran Airways Inc.”
  • The two airlines will conduct operations under a single set of FAA Operations Specifications.

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways Customers will continue to experience the same great service from each airline. Customers flying on AirTran will continue to make reservations or check in at airtran.com or by calling 800-247-8726, and visit AirTran kiosks and airport ticket counters.  AirTran Employees will still work on scheduled AirTran flights. Customers flying on Southwest can continue to find low fares or check in at southwest.com or by calling 800-435-9792, or at Southwest kiosks and airport ticket counters.  Southwest Employees will still work on scheduled Southwest flights.  Customers will continue to earn and redeem currency through the respective frequent flier loyalty programs, as they do today.  These programs will be integrated over time.

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, both carriers 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. Throughout the next several years, Southwest Airlines will continue the process of welcoming AirTran Employees to the Southwest Family, converting AirTran Airways aircraft to the Southwest paint scheme and interior configuration, and transitioning AirTran Airways gates to Southwest Airlines gates (beginning with Seattle in August of 2012). “

Video:

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

 

Southwest and AirTran announce new routes

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (OrlandO) announced today new nonstop routes as they extend their flight schedules for travel bookings out through November 2, 2012. Southwest announced new nonstop service between Detroit and Las Vegas and AirTran announced new nonstop service between Des Moines and Chicago Midway. In addition, Southwest will now operate two daily nonstop flights between Atlanta and San Francisco as it transitions this route from an AirTran-operated city pair to one operated by Southwest. Southwest also will initiate one daily nonstop flight between Atlanta and Orlando, with AirTran continuing its nine daily flights between these cities.

Copyright Photo: Southwest Airlines. WN and FL are now tail-to-tail at the Atlanta hub.

AirTran Photo Gallery: CLICK HERE

Southwest Photo Gallery: CLICK HERE

AirTran to fly to Cancun from Denver and Austin

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (Orlando) announced today the carriers have received route authority approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for AirTran to operate new international flights between Denver International Airport and Cancun International Airport and between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Cancun International Airport.

Austin is a new market for AirTran Airways, joining Denver and Cancun on AirTran’s current route map. AirTran’s new international flight schedule will now include the following flights:

Between Denver and Cancun:

Daily roundtrip service starting April 16, 2012, through July 7, 2012

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday service starting July 8, 2012, through August 12, 2012

Saturday and Sunday service starting on August 13, 2012, through the end of the schedule (currently September 28, 2012)

Between Austin and Cancun:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday roundtrip flights starting May 25, 2012, through August 31, 2012

Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday roundtrip flights starting September 1, 2012, through the end of the schedule (currently September 28, 2012)

In addition to the new international service, AirTran will operate new domestic roundtrip service between Houston Hobby and San Antonio and between Houston Hobby and Austin to support the international flying.

The new service between Houston and San Antonio begins on May 24, 2012, and the new service between Houston and Austin begins on May 25, 2012. Both roundtrips are scheduled to operate through the end of the current flight schedule (which is September 28, 2012).

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. Please click on the photo for information on this logojet. The AirTran logojets are not expected to survive.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Current routes from the Atlanta hub:

Please click on the map to expand.

Southwest Airlines and Airtran Airways Flight Attendants ratify Seniority Integration Agreement

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) is moving one step closer towards the integration of AirTran Airways (Orlando). The Flight Attendants from Southwest Airlines, represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) 556, and AirTran Airways, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) Council 57, have voted to ratify their Seniority Integration Agreement. This tentative agreement, reached late last year, integrates the two groups’ seniority lists.

Southwest Airlines finalized closing of the acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc., on May 2, 2011.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck.

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways announced new flights

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and AirTran Airways (Orlando) released flight schedules for August 12, 2012, through September 28, 2012.

Southwest’s August and September schedules will offer 3,250 daily flights. AirTran’s schedules will offer more than 550 daily flights.

Starting with the Southwest side, WN is adding new nonstop service in nine roundtrip markets. WN will begin three weekday roundtrip flights between both Atlanta and Norfolk and between Atlanta and Louisville (note: these are not markets currently served by AirTran), as well as two weekday roundtrip flights between both St. Louis and New York (LaGuardia) and between St. Louis and San Antonio. With the additional flights, the daily departure count from St. Louis is up to 90. As WN continues the conversion of AirTran service and aircraft to the Southwest brand (after receiving a Single Operating Certificate), we’ll begin new nonstop SWA service that replaces existing service operated by AirTran between:

Atlanta-Seattle/Tacoma: one daily roundtrip
Denver-New York/LaGuardia: two daily roundtrips
Los Angeles-Milwaukee: two daily roundtrips
Milwaukee-New York/LaGuardia: two daily roundtrips (three additional remain on AirTran)
Milwaukee-Seattle/Tacoma: one daily roundtrip

Southwest will also add two more flights between Atlanta and Los Angeles, which will replace two AirTran flights. Milestones abound in this schedule, but one is particularly noteworthy: this marks the very first full city conversion, as Southwest will completely assimilate all AirTran service effective with this August 12 schedule.

Across the rest of the Southwest network, the total number of weekday departures declines from the summer high of 3,422 to 3,250, with a flat aircraft count. While WN increases frequency in seven roundtrip markets (in addition to the Atlanta-Los Angeles increase mentioned above), the airline will reduce nonstop service in 88 roundtrip markets from their summertime highs. WN will eliminate nonstop service in 11 roundtrip markets—some seasonal, some covered by existing AirTran service, and some that are simply no longer profitable in this high-cost environment. The nonstop markets being eliminated are:

Albuquerque-Lubbock
Albuquerque-Midland/Odessa
Albuquerque-Orlando
Baltimore/Washington-Seattle/Tacoma (seasonal)
Ft. Lauderdale-Kansas City (seasonal)
Houston/Hobby-Seattle/Tacoma (seasonal)
Indianapolis-Orlando (service remains on AirTran)
Jackson-Orlando
Jacksonville-Tampa Bay
Milwaukee-Tampa Bay (seasonal—service remains on AirTran)
San Diego-St. Louis (seasonal)

AirTran’s new August/September 2012 Schedule contains a pretty complex set of changes as well. Just like in the Southwest schedule, AirTran’s new schedule reflects the seasonal softening of customer demand as well as the need to “free up” aircraft to go through the conversion (painting) process, so FL will decrease systemwide daily departures from 680 on a typical Friday to 568, a reduction of 112. In addition to the market eliminations announced Friday here as well as the AirTran-to-Southwest conversions listed above, WN/FL are adjusting frequencies upwards in seven markets and downwards in 25 others. Seasonal summer nonstop service in the following 11 markets will be cancelled, although connecting service will continue to be available on either AirTran or Southwest:

Baltimore/Washington-Ft. Myers
Baltimore/Washington-New Orleans
Baltimore/Washington-San Francisco
Baltimore/Washington-Seattle/Tacoma
Charlotte-Orlando
Columbus-Ft. Lauderdale
Flint-Tampa Bay
Ft. Lauderdale-Indianapolis
Grand Rapids-Orlando
Grand Rapids-Tampa Bay
Rochester-Tampa Bay

WN/FL are also eliminating the double-daily roundtrip nonstops between Akron/Canton and Milwaukee and replacing them with two daily Akron/Canton-Chicago-Midway nonstops.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

AirTran Airways to drop six destinations, 22 to convert to Southwest

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (Orlando) have confirmed the intent to convert AirTran Airways operations at 22 domestic and international airports to Southwest operations over time.

The 22 AirTran airports that will continue to operate and will eventually join the Southwest route map include: Flint, Mich. (FNT); Rochester, N.Y. (ROC); Pensacola, Fla. (PNS); Charlotte, N.C. (CLT); Dayton, Ohio (DAY); Richmond, Va. (RIC); Key West, Fla. (EYW); Washington, D.C. (DCA); Memphis, Tenn. (MEM); Akron-Canton, Ohio (CAK); Wichita, Kan. (ICT); Des Moines, Iowa (DSM); Branson, Mo. (BKG); Portland, Maine (PWM); Grand Rapids, Mich. (GRR); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ); Cancun, Mexico (CUN); Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ); Aruba (AUA); San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); Bermuda (BDA); and Nassau, Bahamas (NAS). AirTran service and Employees at these airports are planned to convert to Southwest gradually over the course of AirTran’s integration into Southwest. The airlines earlier announced that AirTran will begin serving Mexico City, Mexico (MEX) on May 24, 2012, and San Jose Cabo, Mexico (SJD) on June 3, 2012. Those destinations also will convert to Southwest over time. Of the 69 cities AirTran served when Southwest acquired it on May 2, 2011, 53 cities are planned to convert to full Southwest Airlines service.

Effective August 12, 2012, AirTran Airways will cease operations at the following airports: Allentown, Pa. (ABE); Lexington, Ky. (LEX); Harrisburg, Pa. (MDT); Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla. (SRQ); Huntsville, Ala. (HSV); and White Plains, N.Y. (HPN).

AirTran currently operates six daily nonstop flights at Sarasota/Bradenton with 16 Employees. Its Allentown (one daily nonstop flight), Lexington (two daily nonstop flights), Harrisburg (one daily nonstop flight), Huntsville (two daily nonstop flights), and White Plains (three daily nonstop flights) operations are all supported by AirTran’s contracted vendor partners.

AirTran Airways will continue to operate at Allentown, Lexington, Harrisburg, Sarasota, Huntsville, and White Plains through August 11, 2012. Ticketed passengers, passengers holding reservations, or passengers desiring to make reservations for flights to or from these airports, have no need to alter their travel plans prior to August 12, 2012.

Both Southwest’s and AirTran’s priority is to take excellent care of the dedicated Employees, partners, and Customers in these six locations. AirTran Employees at these locations have performed superbly and will have the opportunity to move elsewhere within AirTran, after operations cease on August 12, 2012.

As of August 12, 2012, Southwest will offer 41 flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), becoming the first jointly served airport to fully convert to Southwest Airlines service. AirTran currently serves the market with one daily flight from SEA to Milwaukee (MKE) and seasonal service to both Atlanta (ATL) and Baltimore/Washington (BWI). Southwest will maintain the MKE, ATL, and BWI routes with direct and connecting service. Southwest and AirTran will announce future jointly served airport conversions as those specific plans are lined up.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. There is no official word on whether the AirTran special liveries will survive the switchover to Southwest. Even though Southwest has their own special schemes, it is not likely they will continue the AirTran special liveries.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Airlines to launch Atlanta-Los Angeles flights on June 10

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has announced plans to operate one new daily nonstop flight between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport beginning on June 10, 2012 . This will be in addition to the three daily flights operated by AirTran Airways (Orlando), Southwest’s wholly-owned subsidiary.

Southwest will begin service to the Atlanta market on February 12, 2012, with 15 daily nonstop flights to five destinations:

Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Denver , Houston Hobby and Austin, Texas. Additionally, beginning on March 10, 2012, the carrier will add daily, roundtrip flights between Atlanta and Las Vegas and Atlanta and Phoenix.

With the addition of Atlanta to Southwest’s network next month, Southwest Airlines adds Georgia, the 38th State, to a route map of service to a total of 73 US airports, including Atlanta.

AirTran currently serves 52 cities nonstop from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, including international routes to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. Please click on the photo for additional information on this logojet.

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Tentative transition agreement reached for AirTran and Southwest flight attendants

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), representing 2,400 Flight Attendants at AirTran Airways (Orlando), announced a Seniority Integration and Transition Agreement with Southwest Airlines (Dallas), AirTran Airways and Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents Southwest Flight Attendants.

The agreement outlines the full integration of AirTran Flight Attendants into Southwest as the two airlines merge. The agreement will be sent to Flight Attendants at both carriers for ratification.

AFA’s seniority integration policy promotes unity and protects a Flight Attendant’s years of service. This is the ideal as we recognize the contributions all Flight Attendants make to our careers. But, in merger such as this one between Southwest and Air Tran where Flight Attendants will not be represented by AFA once the merger integration is concluded, AFA has successfully lobbied for seniority protection under the law. Earlier this month AFA won a case before the federal court of appeals that confirms a Flight Attendants’ right to a fair and equitable process for seniority integration.

Air Tran AFA members will now decide whether to approve the tentative transition agreement that includes a seniority integration process or go to arbitration on the issue of seniority integration.

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. Please click on the photo for additional information.

Southwest announces new international routes to Mexico for AirTran

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary AirTran Airways (Orlando) announced today the carriers have received route authority approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for AirTran to operate international flights to new destinations in Mexico beginning as early as May 24, 2012 . AirTran’s new international flights will include one daily roundtrip between Orange County, California, and Cabo San Lucas / San Jose del Cabo and one daily roundtrip between Orange County and Mexico City. AirTran also will initiate four weekly roundtrip flights between San Antonio and Cancun as well as one daily roundtrip flight between San Antonio and Mexico City.

To support the new international flights out of Orange County ‘s John Wayne International Airport, a market AirTran does not currently serve, AirTran will add domestic service between San Francisco and Orange County with one daily roundtrip flight, and one daily roundtrip flight between Las Vegas and Orange County, beginning June 3, 2012.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest to add international flights through AirTran

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) and its wholly owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways (Orlando) have announced new destinations and nonstop routes as they extend their flight schedules for reservations from June 3, 2012 , through Auust. 10, 2012 (some flights begin as early as May 24, 2012 ). Southwest announced new Houston nonstop service and AirTran will add nonstop service between Ft. Lauderdale/ Hollywood and San Juan, Puerto Rico , as well as new Denver nonstop routes.

In addition, AirTran announced plans to expand its international presence with four new nonstop routes to Mexico : San Antonio to Cancun and Mexico City beginning on May 2012 , and Orange County, California to Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City beginning in June 2012 . This service is subject to government approval and is not yet for sale. Specific frequencies and fares for these international routes will be announced once the appropriate approvals are received. AirTran does not currently serve Orange County , so the future introduction of AirTran service to these markets is a direct benefit of Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran.

A quick view of the new service is listed below.

AirTran new service beginning May 24, 2012:

  • Two daily roundtrip flights between Ft. Lauderdale/ Hollywood and San Juan

AirTran new service beginning June 3, 2012:

  • One daily roundtrip flight between Denver and Akron – Canton
  • One daily roundtrip flight between Denver and Dayton
  • Two daily roundtrip flights between Denver and New York LaGuardia
  • Two daily roundtrip flights between Baltimore/Washington and Los Angeles
  • One daily roundtrip flight between Baltimore/Washington and New Orleans
  • Two daily roundtrip flights between Baltimore/Washington and Seattle
  • One daily roundtrip flight between Baltimore/Washington and San Francisco

Southwest new service beginning June 3, 2012:

  • One daily roundtrip flight between Houston Hobby and Raleigh-Durham
  • One daily roundtrip flight between Houston Hobby and Kansas City
  • One daily roundtrip flight between Houston Hobby and Seattle
  • One daily roundtrip flight between Chicago Midway and Oklahoma City

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

AirTran Airways to drop five airports on June 2

AirTran Airways (Orlando) announced to its employees it will cease operations at the following airports: Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Miami International (MIA), Central Illinois Regional Airport/Bloomington/Normal, Illinois (BMI), Charleston’s Yeager Airport in West Virginia (CRW), and Dulles International (IAD). The Southwest Airlines operations at IAD will continue unaffected. The last day of operations at these airport will be on June 2, 2012.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for additional information.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Visit our new website: CLICK HERE

Atlanta Hub Route Map:

Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways pilots ratify seniority integration agreement

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has announced a seniority integration agreement has been ratified between the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA), the union representing Southwest Airlines Pilots, and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing the pilots of AirTran Airways (Orlando). This agreement integrates the two groups’ seniority lists. SWAPA’s Board of Directors and ALPA’s Master Executive Council both approved the agreement in September, allowing the membership of each Pilot’s Union to review the proposed agreement and ultimately ratify. Southwest Airlines finalized closing of the acquisition of AirTran Holdings, Inc. on May 2, 2011.

According to the airline, “there is still work to be done to integrate the more than 6,000 Southwest Airlines Pilots, and 1,700 AirTran Pilots. Integration Teams made up of Pilots from both groups have already been formed and are moving forward in an effort to make the combining of the two groups as seamless as possible.”

The two carriers are still two separate airlines with two AOCs working towards a single operating certificate.

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Southwest Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum.

Atlanta Falcons football players help to move the AirTran flights at Atlanta

AirTran Airways (Orlando) got a friendly bit of help on Tuesday (November 1) at the Atlanta hub, specifically the ticket counter and gate C-16, from some of the football players of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

Read the full report with photos from Nuts About Southwest: CLICK HERE

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. Please click on the photo for additional information.

Southwest warns the pilots it could keep AirTran as a separate airline if they fail to integrate the seniority list

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) has warned the pilots of subsidiary AirTran Airways (Orlando) it would consider keeping AirTran as a separate airline if the pilots of both airlines fail to agree on the plan to combine seniority lists.

According to this report by Bloomberg, “Southwest briefed its pilots on a Plan B for “separate and unintegrated” operations after that union declined to hold a membership election on a seniority proposal”.

Pilots of both airlines are voting on the proposal until November 7.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. Please click on the photo for the aircraft details.

Southwest’s plans for AirTran’s hub at Atlanta

Southwest Airlines (Dallas) is making plans for its subsidiary AirTran Airways’ hub at Atlanta according to this article by Bloomberg. Some markets will be dropped and the Boeing 717-200s will probably be gradually replaced. The number of daily departures is expected to be trimmed around 13 percent to around 175. WN will add new service to larger markets and rely less on connecting. WN also expects a $1 billion increase in annual revenue from ATL.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

In other news, Southwest for the ninth year, kicked off the University of Texas/University of Oklahoma NCAA football game weekend with a pep rally to support both team and the annual Southwest Pigskin Plane Pull at Dallas Love Field (both teams play each other today in Dallas). According to WN, “More than 500 Southwest Employees came out to Southwest’s Maintenance Hangar to watch Fellow Employees compete on behalf of UT or OU to see who could pull an 83,000-pound Boeing 737 across 50 yards the fastest.”

Boeing 737-3H4 N391SW (msn 27378) wore the special nose emblem this year.

Read the full report from Nuts About Southwest: CLICK HERE

Photo of “Red River Rivalry” logo on N391SW: CLICK HERE

AirTran Slide Show: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Norbert G. Raith. Please click on the photo for additional information.

SkyWest ends its relationship with AirTran

SkyWest Airlines (St. George) as planned, yesterday (September 6) stop flying for AirTran Airways from the Milwaukee station. AirTran and parent Southwest Airlines have taken over some of the regional routes but many are unprofitable for larger aircraft. Southwest does not have a pilot scope clause for the company to contract with other carriers to operate feeder flights.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman. Please click on the photo for the full story.

SkyWest’s former MKE routes:

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