The purchase of AirTran by Southwest was, in large part, to gain access to significant gate and slot portfolios at a few major airports where the company had previously had difficulty establishing a presence. So it should come as no surprise to see those operations leveraged in a way that better integrates with the route and operational structure that Southwest has built over the years. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced a number of new routes from Atlanta today at a meeting with local business leaders, kicking off the first notable shift of legacy AirTran resources to fill gaps in the Southwest network.
Starting on February 12, 2012 the company will add 15 daily frequencies out of Atlanta to five airports, four of which serve as hubs for the company’s operations. The new routes include service between Atlanta and:
- Austin – two daily nonstop roundtrips
- Baltimore/Washington – four daily nonstop roundtrips
- Denver – two daily nonstop roundtrips
- Houston Hobby – three daily nonstop roundtrips
- Chicago Midway – four daily nonstop roundtrips
Certainly not a major overhaul of the route network or even scratching the surface of the capacity the carrier has to work with in Atlanta. But it definitely shows the beginnings of the integration of Atlanta into a major point on the combined carriers’ network and how passengers will flow through the other hubs for onward connections. Expect to see similar moves at the other big airports the purchase came with (e.g. LaGuardia and Washington National) soon.
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