Posted on: 01 March 2012 by Mark Howells
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways have received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to function under a Single Operating Certificate (SOC).
The process of a full integration of the AirTran Airways fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet (such as paint scheme and interior configuration) has still to be completed. Also, Southwest emphasised that the transition to a single ticketing system is “a large and complex process that will take several years to complete”.
"While this is an important milestone and one that we are extremely proud to achieve, as a practical matter, most employees and customers will see little or no immediate difference in the two airlines’ flight operations, as allowed by having both carriers named on the Single Operating Certificate," noted Mike Van de Ven, chief operating officer at Southwest Airlines. "This will enable us to continue our integration in a coordinated and thoughtful manner while our customers will continue to receive the highest level of service and safety they have come to expect from both carriers.
"We cannot overstate the significance of having received our Single Operating Certificate – it is a monumental step in the regulatory process and achieving it enables us to move forward with the integration of the two airlines into a single carrier. I would like to thank the employees of Southwest and AirTran, the FAA, and the Department of Transportation for the countless hours of work they have dedicated to achieve the Single Operating Certificate," Van de Ven added.
Throughout the next several years, Southwest Airlines will continue the process of converting AirTran Airways aircraft to the Southwest paint scheme and interior configuration, and transitioning AirTran Airways gates to Southwest Airlines gates, beginning with Seattle in August 2012.