In a move that will inch them closer to being the largest airline in the US, Southwest Airlines closed the purchase of AirTran Airways Monday. The airline already flies more passengers per year, over 100 million, but most of them are vacation travelers, rather than business travelers. This purchase move is said to increase their leverage to capture the higher-fare-paying business traveler.
Acquisition benefits to Southwest Airlines
- Gains access to Washington’s Reagan National Airport
- Acquired gates in New York’s LaGuardia Airport
- Acquires AirTran’s hub in Atlanta
- Will increase passenger traffic by 25%
As of right now, it’s unclear how Southwest’s $1 billion purchase of AirTran will effect the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. It’s assumed that Southwest will integrate AirTran’s routes with their own, but it’s too early to tell how this will pan out. Obviously a huge element of this buy is the acquisition of the Atlanta hub as this is highly sought after in the business travel arena. Of course, the Atlanta part of this deal is particularly interesting to us as that area has always been a great feeder to our market. If access to Atlanta was easier, we may be able to expect a boost in tourism travel from there.