Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran cleared by DOJ
The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division completed its review of Southwest’s acquisition of AirTran Holdings Inc. on April 26. With this clearance, both airlines can move forward with the scheduled transaction date of May 2.
AirTran shareholders initially consented to Southwest’s acquisition of their company on March 23. However, without the DOJ clearance and other regulatory approvals, the transaction was unable to go through. Southwest executives believe this final step represents a significant milestone in the merger.
“…We are ready to move forward with closing the transaction,” Southwest Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement. “We look forward to that milestone day, first and foremost, so that we can begin the exciting work to integrate AirTran into Southwest, and welcome the AirTran crewmembers fully into the Southwest family.”
Bob Jordan, Southwest's executive vice president, strategy and planning, will serve as president of AirTran Airways after May 2.
Upon the acquisition, Southwest will begin the process of incorporating AirTran’s operations into its business model. One key area of concern is obtaining a Single Operating Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, which Southwest projects will be completed by early 2012.
To Southwest executives, customers will benefit the most from the merger. “The combination of AirTran and Southwest Airlines is expected to generate substantial benefits to consumers, including the expansion of low-fare competition in airline markets across the United States, the creation of broader network offerings with a wider range of consumer choices, improved quality and service, and the overall creation of a platform for new growth,” the airline said in a statement.