Posted on: 29 December 2014 by Mark Howells
Southwest Airlines has celebrated the last AirTran revenue flight – AirTran Airways Flight 1, which flew from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Tampa Bay International Airport.
"With this special flight, we are celebrating history and setting our sights on a bright future for all of Southwest Airlines," explained Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines' chief commercial officer and AirTran Airways president, who was on the flight to Tampa. "The work of so many people culminates in this moment as we salute the enormous accomplishments of AirTran and Southwest. For our customers and employees, we now move forward with one airline, one customer experience, one flight schedule, one Rapid Rewards frequent flyer programme, and one award-winning brand."
More than 400 AirTran and Southwest Employees and special guests gathered in Atlanta to commemorate the milestone. AirTran Flight 1 retraced a route that is a nod to AirTran's first commercial flight in October 1993. Flight 1's flight crew consisted of longtime AirTran employees, including the airline's chief pilot, Floy Ponder, a 19-year veteran of AirTran Airways. Each of the flight's 117 passengers, consisting of many former AirTran Employees, retirees, special guests, and aviation enthusiasts received a special keepsake celebrating the historic flight.
"As we've grown in both the domestic and international markets, I can't help but think about all the doors the AirTran acquisition has opened for Southwest Airlines," said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines chairman, president & CEO, who was in Atlanta for the send-off. "The most important things – which cannot be measured and are irreplaceable – are the great people of AirTran who have worked hard to achieve this milestone, and are all soon to be part of the Southwest Airlines family."
Southwest says its acquisition of AirTran was “a unique opportunity to extend the Southwest network into key markets it didn't yet serve, such as Atlanta and the greater Washington, DC, area, via Ronald Reagan National Airport. The integration gives Southwest the opportunity to serve customers from 93 airports in the US and near-international destinations, providing customers more low-fare destinations as it expands the ‘Southwest Effect’ to hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the travelling public”.