This page is a soft redirect.}
1992ValuJet Airlines as |
October 26, 1993 as ValuJet Airlines|
November 17, 1997 as AirTran Airways
|Ceased operations||December 28, 2014 (integrated into Southwest Airlines)|
|Frequent-flyer program||A+ Rewards|
|Company slogan||Go. There's nothing stopping you.|
|Parent company||Southwest Airlines Co. NYSE: LUV|
|Headquarters||Dallas, Texas, U.S.|
AirTran Airways was an American low-cost airline headquartered in Dallas, Texas and was a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, with which it integrated. AirTran operated nearly 700 daily flights, primarily in the eastern and midwestern United States, with its principal hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport where it operated nearly 200 daily departures. AirTran's fleet consisted of Boeing 717 aircraft, of which it was the largest operator, and Boeing 737-700 aircraft. It was fully integrated into Southwest Airlines on December 28, 2014.
Foundation & early years
See also: ValuJet Airlines
The original AirTran Airways, a Boeing 737 operator with service to/from Orlando, was founded by AirTran Corporation, the holding company of Mesaba Airlines of Minneapolis, Minnesota, operating as a Northwest Airlink carrier with hubs in Minneapolis and Detroit. In 1994, AirTran Holdings purchased a start up 737 operator named Conquest Sun and renamed the airline AirTran Airways. Conquest Sun, similar to ValuJet, was an airline started by former Eastern Air Lines employees. The original AirTran Airways moved its headquarters to Orlando, Florida, and grew to 11 Boeing 737 aircraft serving 24 cities in the East and Midwest providing low-fare leisure travel to Orlando. In 1995, AirTran Airways was spun off by Mesaba and formed its own independent holding company named Airways Corporation.
On July 10, 1997, ValuJet, Inc., the holding company for ValuJet Airlines, Inc., announced plans to acquire Airways Corporation, Inc., the holding company for AirTran Airways, Inc. of Orlando, Florida. The deal was closed on November 17, 1997.
Following two serious accidents (flight 597 and flight 592), both blamed on a lax corporate culture on safety at ValuJet, on September 24, 1997, ValuJet Airlines changed its name to AirTran Airlines, by, on November 17, 1997, acquiring Airways, Inc. and renaming the holding company AirTran Holdings, Inc. In the summer of 1998, the two airlines merged onto the same FAA certificate and the AirTran Airways name survived. While the hub remained in Atlanta, the headquarters of the new entity was combined in Orlando, Florida, on January 28, 1998.
In January 1999, a new management team led by Joe Leonard, a veteran of Eastern Air Lines and Robert L. Fornaro, of US Airways, took the reins at the airline.
On August 15, 2001, the company's stock began trading under the ticker symbol AAI on the New York Stock Exchange.
On January 5, 2004, AirTran's last Douglas DC-9 was retired, leaving it with a fleet of more than 70 Boeing 717s. Shortly after, the first Boeing 737 entered AirTran's fleet in June 2004.
In August 2004, AirTran JetConnect (operated by Air Wisconsin) ceased all operations.
On May 23, 2006, AirTran accepted one of the last two Boeing 717s delivered in a ceremony with Midwest Airlines, who accepted the other 717. Boeing closed the 717 line due to an overlap with the 737.
In November 2007, Robert L. Fornaro took over as CEO, as well as President. Joe Leonard remained Chairman of the Board of Directors until June 2008. Upon his retirement, Fornaro then became Chairman making him Chairman, President and CEO.
In 2009, AirTran was the first major airline to have 100% of its fleet outfitted with Gogo Inflight Internet, although other airlines had begun adding Internet before AirTran.
In December 2006, Air Tran Holdings announced that it had been trying to acquire Midwest Air Group. On August 12, 2007, AirTran announced its attempt to purchase Midwest Airlines had expired, while TPG Capital, in partnership with Northwest Airlines, had entered into an agreement to purchase Midwest Airlines for an amount larger than the AirTran Airways' proposal. However, on August 14, 2007, AirTran increased its offer to the equivalent of $16.25 a share, slightly more than the $16 a share from TPG Capital investors group. However, Midwest announced TPG would increase its offer to $17 per share and a definitive agreement had been reached late on August 16, 2007.
On September 21, 2007, AirTran pilots, represented by the National Pilots Association, rejected the carrier's contract proposal. Two weeks earlier, the pilots voted to dump the union president and vice president. On April 10, 2009, 87% of the pilots at AirTran voted to merge the National Pilots Association with the world's largest pilot union, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
On April 6, 2010 AirTran Airways opened their second crew base, at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, the same day they officially announced Milwaukee as their second hub.
On July 27, 2010, AirTran Airways hosted the grand opening of their new System Operations Control (SOC) Center at Orlando International Airport. This Script error: No such module "convert"., $6.9 million state-of-the-art command center serves as the 24-hour nerve center for the entire airline with over 700 flights per day. The company employs more than 1,000 crew members in central Florida at several facilities, including their corporate headquarters, the SOC and a maintenance facility in addition to passengers operations at the airport. After considering putting the SOC Center in Atlanta where AirTran has their largest hub, the decision was made to expand the facility in Orlando adjacent to AirTran’s headquarters.
Prior to the winding down of the airline, AirTran grew to serve more than 70 cities coast-to-coast as well as in the Caribbean and Mexico with more than 700 flights per day and over 8,500 crew members serving nearly 25 million passengers per year.
Buyout and wind-down
On September 27, 2010, Southwest Airlines announced they would acquire AirTran Airways for a total cost of $1.4 billion. The acquisition would give Southwest a significant presence at many of AirTran’s hubs such as Atlanta (then the largest U.S. city without Southwest service), Milwaukee, and expanded service in Baltimore and Orlando. With the merger, Southwest adds international service to several leisure destinations such as Cancún, Montego Bay and Aruba. Southwest will integrate AirTran's fleet of Boeing 737-700 series aircraft into Southwest Airlines brand and livery, and the Boeing 717 fleet will be leased out to Delta Air Lines starting mid-2013. The airlines plan to have the acquisition completed and finalized within the next two years; until then, the carriers will operate as separate airlines. The deal closed on May 2, 2011 and a single operating certificate for the combined carrier was achieved March 1, 2012. Total integration of all employee groups between the two carriers is expected to be completed by 2015.
On February 14, 2013, Southwest Airlines announced that they had begun codesharing with AirTran. They took the first step on January 26, 2013, by launching shared itineraries in five markets. Southwest continued launching shared itineraries with 39 more markets beginning February 25, 2013. By April 2013, shared itineraries were scheduled to be available in all Southwest and AirTran cities (domestic and international).
AirTran's final 737 operated flight was on November 30, 2014.
Southwest announced that the integration would be completed on December 28, 2014 with AirTran Airways Flight 1 as the final scheduled departure for the airline flying from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) to Tampa International Airport (TPA). The flight used the callsign "Critter" as a nod to ValuJet. This route was ValuJet's first flight.
Prior to the acquisition, the corporate headquarters of AirTran were located in Orlando, Florida. The airline moved its headquarters to Orlando in 1994. Prior to that period, the headquarters were in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
AirTran adopted an approach to employee recruitment similar to Southwest Airlines with an emphasis on functional skills and relational competence. The airline had clear job specialization with the expectation of flexibility between jobs as required by day-to-day operational circumstances. AirTran’s training approach involved drawing the link between individual job performance, the airline’s overall financial performance and the importance of achieving high levels of customer service and efficiency.
Main article: AirTran Airways destinations
When the acquisition by Southwest was announced, AirTran served 69 destinations throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and abroad.
Top served cities
Prior to the acquisition by Southwest, the AirTran fleet maxed at the following aircraft:
Before being acquired by Southwest, AirTran had orders for 65 additional 737-700s. In addition, AirTran's 717 fleet included the first and last 717 ever built.
AirTran Airways operated a two-class configuration featuring Business Class and Economy Class. Business class included rows 1–3 and coach began with row 10; rows 4–9 are skipped for numbering purposes and 13 is skipped due to superstition.
AirTran's livery was primarily white, with teal on the ventral side. The sections were divided by parallel red and pink stripes, which ran horizontal at the front, and started to curve upward at the wings until they reached the top side of the plane at the back of the vertical stabilizer. The nacelles were royal blue, with "airtran.com" written in white Helvetica font. The logo version of "AirTran" was written toward the front on either side in teal above the passenger windows and the vertical stabilizer was teal with a prominent white cursive "A", just like the beginning of the logo.
Special livery aircraft
AirTran Airways also created several special livery aircraft. They included an aircraft featuring Elton John and Danica Patrick. AirTran also partnered with the Orlando/Orange County CVB to create a Boeing 717 aircraft emblazoned with a "Say YES to Orlando" logo on each side and a second Boeing 717 saying "Orlando Makes Me Smile," which celebrated AirTran Airways' partnership with the OOCVB to promote travel to the city. The airline also had an aircraft paying tribute to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
Incidents and accidents