Sept. 19, 2000, it has not come easy for this company. With having to overcome the crash of ValueJet Flight 592 in 1996, the FAA grounding its aircraft fleet, the merger of ValueJet to the flight attendants declaring war against the company. AirTran Airways has grown from its past with passenger traffic growth up by 25 percent. In August of this year, AirTran reported an all time monthly high record for passenger travel. AirTran Airways growth is largely to do with the right decisions that are being made at the corporate levels. For example,
Sept. 7, AirTran Airway entered a fuel hedging agreement covering an additional 20 percent of its estimated fuel consumption between October 2000 and March 2001. This agreement effectively limits AirTran Airways' crude oil exposure to a price between $27 and $32 per barrel. ``While continued high fuel prices are affecting the entire airline industry, this additional measure will help us hold the line on costs so we can continue to provide affordable air travel to consumers who demand it,'' said AirTran Airways president Robert Fornaro. ``While we believe fuel prices will moderate, it is appropriate to cap our exposure to future fuel price increases. '' When combined with current hedge positions, AirTran Airways will have hedged nearly 35 percent of its fuel needs at a price no higher than $28 per barrel.
In August, AirTran offers is passengers such offerings as "Get Away This Labor Day Weekend With AirTran Airways" with last minute fares as low as $39 one way for travel on September 2,3,6 and 7 representing discounts of up to 50 percent. "These Labor Day Holiday sale fares are a great way to plan a last minute vacation,'' said Matthew Klein, AirTran Airways' director of revenue management.
With the opening of five new gates in the new Fourth Airside Terminal on the A side of the Orlando International Airport. Currently, the airline operates from two gates in the B side of the airport. "As Orlando's hometown airline, we are very proud to call the new concourse `home,'" said Joe Leonard, chairman and CEO of AirTran Airways. "It is very exciting to not only have more space to operate out of, but also to do it in the midst of this beautiful art and architecture."
However, the company will have to continue to work at overcoming its past. Especially when it has the kinds of problems like Flight 913, returning back to the airport due to smoke in the cockpit.
On Aug. 8, AirTran Airways Flight 913, Atlanta bound aircraft returns to Greensboro's Piedmont Triad International Airport. The DC-9 jet, left the gate in Greensboro at 3:10 p.m. bound for Atlanta and departed runway 5 at 3:30 p.m. Shortly after takeoff at an altitude of 7,000 feet and approximately fifteen miles from the airport, the captain reported smoke in the cockpit. The captain immediately decided to return to Greensboro, followed standard procedures and made a smooth landing on runway 23 at 3:45 p.m. The captain did declare an emergency to ensure prompt Air Traffic Control handling and the availability of emergency vehicles in the event they would be needed. The crew was in control of the aircraft at all times. All 56 passengers, five crew members and one jump seat rider were evacuated following standard emergency procedures using the aircraft's slides and stairs. Emergency vehicles and medical personnel met the aircraft. Four crew members and one passenger were treated and released for minor injuries at local hospitals.
AirTran Airways flew 387.5 million revenue passenger miles in August, up 25 percent compared to August 1999. Capacity, based on available seat miles, grew by 11.2 percent, while load factor, or percentage of seats filled, increased by 8.2 points to 74.8 percent, versus 66.6 percent in August 1999. Traffic levels represented the best August for the company. In addition, AirTran Airways flew more capacity in August than in any previous month in history. System wide, AirTran Airways operates 298 daily departures to 31 cities. Offering the convenience of easy, same concourse connections in Atlanta, AirTran Airways operates 138 daily departures from Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport.
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