Aviation News

February 13, 2012

At Last: Southwest Airlines Launches Atlanta Service [with Photos]

A Southwest ramper directs one of the first of the airline's planes to land in Atlanta

Over a year after purchasing AirTran Airways specifically for its valuable foothold in Atlanta, Southwest Airlines began its first service at the Georgia airport on Sunday.

Southwest’s initial schedule at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport — America’s busiest — includes 15 daily flights to five destinations: Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Denver and Houston Hobby, with 48 total destinations available via connections in those cities. Two more destinations will be added in March with Las Vegas and Phoenix joining the lineup, Los Angeles will be added in June and Louisville, Norfolk and Seattle flights begin in August.

Sunday’s first three flights carried only about 50 passengers each, according to an Atlanta Journal Constitution report, though Southwest cited the slow travel season and the time needed to ramp up publicity for the new flights.

A Southwest 737-700 (N942WN) lands in Atlanta for the first time. (Video by Southwest)
[See photos below]

A position in the lucrative Atlanta market was the biggest coup for Southwest in its purchase of AirTran and its 31 ATL gates in 2010. AirTran remains Atlanta’s second largest airline — after Delta — and continues to serve 52 markets in the US, Caribbean and Mexico. All service will eventually transition to the Southwest brand. Southwest now flies to 73 airports in 38 states.

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