Air Tran Airways
Air Tran Airways or AirTran Airways originated with the creation of ValueJet Airlines in Georgia in 1992. The creators of ValueJet with all airline veterans from various disciplines: executives, attendants, pilots and mechanics. Many had been working for Eastern Air Lines which had disappeared.
Air Tran Airways – Beginnings
With free landing slots available at Atlanta, Valuejet started its commercial flights with only two aircraft. The first flight was between Atlanta and Tampa in October 1993.
Unfortunately, as the airline grew it became embroiled in FAA investigations instigated by aircraft crashes. Valujet was accused of excessive cost-cutting leading to security concerns.
In 1997 the airline announced that it had arranged a merger with the smaller airline Air Tran Airways which was owned by the holding company Airways Corporation. With the merger the company relocated its headquarters to Orlando.
Air Tran Airways was a Boeing aircraft operator with services out of Orlando. They later merged with a startup airline called Conquest Sun. In 1999 a new board of management was created led by Joe Leonard. Later, in 2001 Air Tran Airways was listed on the NY Stock Exchange with the symbol AAI.
Air Tran Airways – Expansion
In 2003 Air Tran Airways expanded with flight services to Washington and later San Francisco. Later that year 100 737 jets were ordered from Boeing. The following year the remaining Douglas aircraft were decommissioned. The company now had a fleet of only Boeing aircraft.
Further expansion was attempted in 2004 when Air Tran Airways tried to buy leases from ATA Airlines at Chicago Airport. But they were beaten by Southwest Airlines who submitted an higher bid for the gates.
In 2006, Air Tran Airways announced an offer for Midwest Air Group. But in 2007 the offer expired. At this time Northwest Airlines, along with TPG Capital submitted a higher offer for the airline.
In 2007, Air Tran Airways came back with a higher bid for the airline. The offer was $16.25 a share, just above TPG’s offer of $16.00 a share. TPG came back with an offer of $17 a share and this was accepted by Midwest in August.
Also in 2007, a pilot strike at Air Tran Airways suspended flights as the NPA refused the new contract proposals. The pilots also voted to oust the union president and vice-president.
By 2010, Air Tran Airwayshad expanded to service more than 70 cities and also had scheduled flights to the Caribbean. The airline now had over 700 flights a day, 8,500 employees and services over 25 million customers a year.
Air Tran Airways – Merger with Southwest Airlines
In 2010, Southwest Airlines announced an offer to purchase Air Tran Airways for 1.4 billion dollars. The purchase would provide Southwest with a greater presence at AirTrans Airways hubs at Orlando, Atlanta and Milwaukee.
It also gave Southwest more international services to the Caribbean and South America such as Aruba, Cancun and Montego Bay. Southwest began merging the Air Tran Airways Boeing aircraft into the Southwest livery.
The deal was completed in May 2011. A single airline certificate is expected to be given in 2012. Southwest expects to absorb Air Tran Airways by 2015.
The TransAir Airlines Team
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