Aviation News

February 24, 2011

FAA Approves Southwest Airlines Deal to Buy AirTran Airways

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By: BNO News
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday said it had accepted Southwest Airlines’ transition plan to acquire AirTran Airways following the financial close of its transaction to acquire the airline.

AirTran 737-700 departing off of runway 13 at LaGuardia Airport

AirTran 737-700 departing off of runway 13 at LaGuardia Airport. (Photo by Phil Derner, Jr.)

The transaction is expected to close during the year’s second quarter, and relevant to its submitted plan, Southwest clarified that after the transaction close, all certificated and flight-related AirTran Employees (Pilots, Dispatchers, Flight Attendants, Mechanics, Schedulers, etc.) will maintain their AirTran employment status at least until the Single Operating Certificate (SOC) is issued by the FAA for the combined carriers.

Southwest had previously announced an agreement last September to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of AirTran Holdings, Inc., the parent company of AirTran Airways, for a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines’ common stock.

“It’s been a great team effort by a lot of people to reach this initial milestone, but we still have a lot of work to do to ultimately bring our two carriers together,” said Brian Hirshman, Southwest’s Vice President Maintenance and Engineering, and Executive Sponsor of the carrier’s (SOC) team.

“We consider this acceptance by the FAA as the first major milestone on the journey towards SOC. There are too many people to recognize individually, but we are hopeful the team’s hard work will allow us to achieve our SOC goal in the first quarter 2012.”

Closing is subject to the approval of AirTran shareholders, receipt of certain regulatory clearances, and fulfillment of customary closing conditions.

Southwest Airlines is in its 40th year of service and currently serves 69 cities in 35 states.