AirTran Airways (Orlando), as planned ended its operations last night (December 28) on its original Atlanta-Tampa route. Special flight FL 1 arrived at the gate at Tampa International Airport (TPA) at 2339 (11:39) EST. As a result, the AirTran brand was retired and the flight marked the full integration of AirTran into Southwest Airlines (Dallas). The last flight was operated with Boeing 717-2BD B717JL (msn 55042).
Read about the history of AirTran Airways: CLICK HERE
Southwest Airlines issued this statement:
Southwest Airlines embarked on a new era on December 28 as it celebrated the last AirTran Airways revenue flight. At 10:25pm EST, AirTran Airways Flight 1 departed Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Tampa Bay International Airport.
“With this special flight, we are celebrating history and setting our sights on a bright future for all of Southwest Airlines,” said Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer and AirTran Airways President, who was on the flight to Tampa. “The work of so many People culminates in this moment as we salute the enormous accomplishments of AirTran and Southwest. For our Customers and Employees, we now move forward with one airline, one Customer Experience, one flight schedule, one Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program, and one award-winning Brand.”
More than 400 AirTran and Southwest Employees and special guests gathered in Atlanta Sunday evening to commemorate the milestone. AirTran Flight 1 retraced a route that is a nod to AirTran’s first commercial flight in October 1993. Flight 1’s flight crew consisted of longtime AirTran Employees, including the airline’s Chief Pilot, Floy Ponder, a 19-year veteran of AirTran Airways. Each of the flight’s 117 passengers, consisting of many former AirTran Employees, retirees, special guests, and aviation enthusiasts received a special keepsake celebrating the historic flight.
“As we’ve grown in both the domestic and international markets, I can’t help but think about all the doors the AirTran acquisition has opened for Southwest Airlines,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines Chairman, President & CEO, who was in Atlanta for the send-off. “The most important things—which cannot be measured and are irreplaceable—are the great People of AirTran who have worked hard to achieve this milestone, and are all soon to be part of the Southwest Airlines family.”
The acquisition of AirTran was a unique opportunity to extend the Southwest network into key markets it didn’t yet serve, such as Atlanta and the greater Washington, D.C., area, via Ronald Reagan National Airport. The integration gives Southwest the opportunity to serve Customers from 93 airports in the U.S. and near-international destinations, providing Customers more low-fare destinations as it expands the well-known “Southwest Effect” to hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public.
Southwest Airlines acquired AirTran Airways in 2011.
Photo: Southwest Airlines. Boeing 717-2BD N717JL taxies into the gate at TPA ending the history of the airline.
Video: Southwest Airlines. The last AirTran flight from Atlanta to Tampa:
Video:<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/115567085″>The last departure of AirTran Airways</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user19954503″>Bruce Drum</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>