Confirms Plans To Shut Down Operations At Four Airports
By Daniel Baxter
August 7, 2011 - AirTran Airways, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, Co. (NYSE: LUV), told its Employees that operations will cease early next year at the following four airports: Asheville (N.C.) Regional (AVL), Atlantic City International (ACY), Quad City (Moline, Ill.) International (MIL), and Newport News Williamsburg (Va.) International (PHF).
AirTran Airways can no longer support service to these
particular markets in light of the realities of the
challenging economic environment and sustained high fuel
The Company?s priority is to take excellent care of its dedicated Employees, Partners, and Customers in these markets. AirTran Employees at these locations have performed superbly and will have the opportunity to move elsewhere within the airline, after the operations cease early next year.
Airways will continue to operate at Asheville, Atlantic City,
and Quad City airports through January 6, 2012, and at Newport
News Williamsburg through March 9, 2012. Ticketed passengers,
passengers holding reservations, or passengers desiring to make
reservations for flights to or from these airports have no need
to alter their travel plans prior to these closing dates. The
airline will begin directly contacting the limited number of
passengers who are currently holding reservations beyond the
closing dates, in order to assist them in reaccommodating their
air travel needs.
Airways is a low-cost airline. A subsidiary of the Dallas,
Texas-based Southwest Airlines, AirTran operates over 1,000
daily flights, primarily in the eastern and midwestern United
States. AirTran's principal hubs are Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport, where it operates over 270 daily
departures, and General Mitchell International Airport in
maintains focus city operations at Baltimore-Washington
International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Orlando
International Airport. AirTran's fleet consists of Boeing 717
aircraft, of which it is the largest operator, and Boeing
737-700 aircraft. On May 2, 2011, Southwest Airlines
successfully acquired AirTran Airways for US$1.4 billion.
AirTran Airways traces its roots to the 1992 founding of ValuJet Airlines in Georgia, United States. The founders were airline industry veterans, including an executive group from the former Southern Airways and pilots, mechanics and flight attendants from the defunct Eastern Air Lines.
Created to fill the void at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after Eastern Air Lines' demise, ValuJet Airlines started with two former Delta Air Lines DC-9 aircraft, and the first commercial flight occurred between Atlanta and Tampa on October 26, 1993. The airline was the first to launch ticketless travel in 1993.
In early 1994,
barely eight months after launching service between Atlanta and three
Florida cities, the airline went public by listing its stock on the
NASDAQ and trading under the ticker symbol VJET.
In August 1995, the Department of Defense (DoD) rejected ValuJet's bid to fly military personnel citing serious deficiencies in ValuJet's quality assurance procedures and an accident rate 14 times higher than the United States' big airlines.
In late 1995, the
airline placed an order with the then McDonnell Douglas Corporation to
be the launch customer for the MD-95 aircraft (now known as the Boeing
717). Serving as the launch customer meant the airline would have
significant input into the design of the aircraft.
At the end of
1995, ValuJet was named as the top company in the Georgia 100 as
published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the airline posted
high margins with a $67 million net profit on revenues of $367 million.
Aviation Administration's (FAA) Atlanta field office sent a memo on
February 14, 1996, to Washington, D.C., stating that "consideration
should be given to the immediate FAR-121 rectification of this
airline"--in other words, the FAA wanted ValuJet grounded. ValuJet
planes made 15 emergency landings in 1994, 57 in 1995, and 57 from
January through May 1996.
In February the
FAA ordered ValuJet to seek approval before adding any new aircraft or
cities to its network, something the industry had not seen since
deregulation in 1979. This attempt at removing ValuJet's certification
was "lost in the maze at FAA" according to NTSB Chairman Jim Hall .
By this time,
ValuJet's accident rate was fourteen times that of legacy carriers. On
May 11, 1996, ValuJet suffered its highest-profile incident when its
Flight 592, a
DC-9 jetliner flying from Miami to Atlanta, plunged into the Florida
Everglades, killing all 110 aboard. After the Flight 592 crash, many of
ValuJet's other cost-cutting practices came under scrutiny. It had
allowed one plane to fly 140 times despite a leaky hydraulic system, and
allowed another plane to fly 31 times with a malfunctioning weather
The resulting investigation revealed numerous systemic flaws, and on June 17, 1996, ValuJet was grounded by the FAA. On September 26, 1996, ValuJet resumed flying with 15 jets, down from 52 before the crash, after complying with all U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA requirements. On November 4, 1996, ValuJet announced that Joseph Corr, former CEO of Continental Airlines, would become CEO and President of the airline at a time when the airline was in serious trouble. It had lost $55 million since the crash of Flight 592.
After the large amount of negative publicity surrounding the Flight 592 incident, ValuJet suffered serious financial problems. On July 11, 1997, ValuJet announced it would merge with the much smaller Airways Corporation, parent of AirTran Airways.
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