Southwest Airlines to fly out of Charlotte Douglas

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines Co. will begin service at Charlotte Douglas International Airport as part of its acquisition of AirTran Airways.

On Friday, Southwest named Charlotte among 22 AirTran markets that will eventually be converted to Southwest service areas. The others are Flint, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla.; Dayton, Ohio; Richmond, Va.; Key West, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Akron- Canton, Ohio; Wichita, Kan.; Des Moines, Iowa; Branson, Mo.; Portland, Maine; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Aruba; San Juan Puerto Rico; Bermuda; Nassau, The Bahamas; Mexico City; and San Jose Cabo, Mexico.

Dallas-based Southwest (NYSE: LUV) says it will cease AirTran operations at the following cities effective Aug. 12: Allentown, Pa.; Lexington, Ky.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Sarasota, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; and White Plains, N.Y.

"We are excited about the cities we have chosen to keep in our combined network,” Bob Jordan, president of AirTran and executive vice president at Southwest, says in a statement. “At the same time, there are some markets that we simply cannot make work in the current fuel environment, so we've had to make the decision to discontinue service in those locations."

The company says the AirTran conversions to the Southwest name will occur over time.
Southwest bought Atlanta-based AirTran Holdings Inc.  in May in a deal valued at $3.2 billion. The purchase gave Southwest access to 38 airports it hadn’t served before – most notably Atlanta.
At present, AirTran operates as a subsidiary of Southwest, but the operations will eventually merge under the Southwest name.

AirTran has operated at Charlotte Douglas since 2005. It has a minimal presence in Charlotte in comparison with US Airways Group Inc., which operates nearly 90 percent of the flights here. Charlotte Douglas is the largest hub of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways.

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