Final Hurdle Was U.S. DOJ Approval Friday
Southwest Airlines has closed on its purchase of all of the
outstanding common stock of AirTran Holdings, Inc. the former
parent company of AirTran Airways (AirTran).
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly
"The successful closing of this transaction is a significant
accomplishment and marks a great day in the history of Southwest
Airlines. I want to thank the People from both Southwest and
AirTran who helped us achieve this important milestone," said Gary
Kelly, CEO, Chairman, and President of Southwest Airlines. "Our
first order of business is to welcome our new friends from AirTran
to the family in a truly Southwest Airlines way.
"The acquisition of AirTran represents a unique opportunity to
extend our network into key markets we don't yet serve, such as
Atlanta and Washington, D.C., via Ronald Reagan National Airport.
It gives us the opportunity to serve more than 100 million
Customers annually from more than 100 different airports in the
U.S. and near-international destinations, providing Customers more
low-fare destinations as we diversify and expand the well-known
'Southwest Effect' to hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries
for the traveling public. Today, we also celebrate the promise of
expanding our presence at New York LaGuardia, Boston Logan,
Milwaukee, and Baltimore/Washington, as well as extending our
service to many smaller domestic cities that we don't serve today,
with access to key near-international leisure markets in the
Caribbean and Mexico," Kelly said.
"The timing of today's (Monday's) closing in the current market
environment could not be more important," he continued. "With
soaring fuel costs putting many airlines, yet again, in the red,
Southwest brings many strengths to bear. Southwest not only brings
profitability and financial strength to make this deal feasible,
but it also positions the combined companies with an
industry-leading investment grade balance sheet to weather the
energy-price storm. In addition, it currently positions Southwest
to offer improved job security, compensation, and benefits to
AirTran Crew Members who join the Southwest family. Further,
Southwest's profitability and financial strength, along with the
United States' largest Low Fare network, puts AirTran Crew Members
in a position to be part of a growing company again, once AirTran
is integrated into Southwest."
Bob Jordan, Southwest's Executive Vice President of Strategy and
Planning, will serve as President of AirTran effective Monday. Bob
Fornaro, who has served as Chairman, President, and CEO at AirTran,
will move to a new key role today as a full-time consultant for the
integration of the two airlines, working closely with Kelly and
Jordan to ensure a smooth transition. As previously announced,
Southwest Airlines' headquarters will remain in Dallas, with plans
for AirTran's operations and presence in both Orlando and Atlanta
still under review. Additional announcements during the integration
will be made as plans unfold.
Jordan will continue to serve on the joint Integration Board
consisting of Kelly, Fornaro, Mike Van de Ven (Southwest Executive
Vice President & Chief Operating Officer), Loral Blinde
(AirTran Senior Vice President Human Resources and Administration),
and Jeff Lamb (Southwest Senior Vice President of Administration
& Chief People Officer). The Integration Board will continue to
provide overall direction of the integration efforts.
Until a Single Operating Certificate (SOC) is secured from the
FAA, AirTran operational Departments will continue operating under
the AirTran operating certificate with the full authority of its
operating teams led by Klaus Goersch, AirTran's Executive Vice
President Operations and Customer Service. Goersch will report
directly to Jordan, and will work closely with Mike Van de Ven.
The remainder of the leadership structure will be communicated
at a future date.
"Today's (Monday's) closing is an important first step
to fulfilling our mission to spread low fares farther and increase
competition throughout the airline industry," Kelly said. "Our
progress, to date, on integration planning has been outstanding.
Without our Employees' hard work and enthusiasm about this
acquisition, we would not have reached this point. As we now take
it to the next level and begin to implement our integration plan,
their continued efforts will be key to our success. I have
confidence in our People and their ability to successfully execute
The Antitrust Division of the United States Department of
Justice (DOJ) told the two airlines Friday it was terminating its
Hart-Scott-Rodino Act review and the closing of its investigation
of the airlines' pending merger.
AirTran stockholders approved the acquisition of AirTran by
Southwest Airlines on March 23, 2011, which, when combined with DOJ
approval and other regulatory clearances, constituted one of the
final steps toward closing the transaction.