Southwest Airlines plans to end service from Akron-Canton Airport, according to airport officials.

GREEN  Southwest Airlines will end service from Akron-Canton Airport in June.

Airport officials acknowledged late Wednesday that Southwest, considered the leader in discount airfare service, will end daily flights it had been offering to Atlanta. The final flight will be June 2.

"We're obviously very disappointed at the news," said Rick McQueen, president and chief executive officer at Akron-Canton. It's another instance of airline consolidation hitting the Northeast Ohio market, he added. 

The airport learned of Southwest's decision early Wednesday. The change comes as the Dallas-based airline announced plans to move service from Dayton International Airport to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. An official announcement from Southwest about the changes at Akron-Canton isn't scheduled until Thursday morning.

Southwest has been at Akron-Canton since 2011 after it merged with AirTran Airlines. Since the merger, Southwest has whittled away at the service AirTran once offered, ending flights to New York, Boston, Milwaukee and other destinations. Last year, Southwest ended flights to Florida, the original service AirTran offered from Akron-Canton.

"Despite strong community support of the airline and service, Southwest has made a business decision to no longer service Atlanta through Akron-Canton," the airport announced in a statement.

Although Southwest will end service to Atlanta, local travelers can use the daily non-stop service Delta Air Lines offers to Atlanta. The airport still will serve 13 destination through Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines and Spirit Airlines. All of those carriers remain strong at Akron-Canton, McQueen said.

There have been concerns about Southwest leaving Akron-Canton since it took over AirTran in 2011. The airline had offered service from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for many years before the deal with AirTran. 

Prior to the merger, AirTran offered 13 daily flights from Akron-Canton and was the airport's largest carrier. More than 1 million passengers used AirTran's service from Akron-Canton in 2013.

Early in 2014, officials from chambers of commerce in Canton and Akron teamed with development groups and tourism officials for a campaign to drum up support for Southwest's service at Akron-Canton. The goal was to keep Southwest operating locally.

"We had hoped to be able to turn this around and grow with them," McQueen said of efforts to retain Southwest's service.

Instead, the airline began ending service. Other airlines responded by adding flights to the areas Southwest exited. When Southwest ended service to New York City, American began flights to LaGuardia and United offered Newark Liberty International. Spirit now serves destinations in Florida and plans to add a flight to Las Vegas this spring.

McQueen said the airport will continue talking with other airlines, encouraging them to add service locally. It also will urge airlines now at Akron-Canton to add service. And if Southwest wants, they always are welcome to return, he said.

Reach Edd at 330-580-8484 or edd.pritchard@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @epritchardREP