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