Southwest Airlines announced Friday that Akron-Canton Airport will be one of 22 stations it will add from the AirTran network.
Southwest Airlines made it official Friday — Akron-Canton Airport will become one of 22 U.S. airports that will convert AirTran Airways operations to Southwest.
AirTran became a wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest following a May 2 merger.
“It’s the news that we’ve always wanted,” said airport Vice President Kristie Van Auken. “We’ve been hoping for Southwest service for the past 25 years.”
AirTran is Akron-Canton’s busiest carrier, with daily flights to seven destinations. Southwest already has added flights to Denver, Van Auken said.
Passengers will see the AirTran logo on aircraft through this year, but should see Southwest aircraft landing here next year. Customers can still book tickets through airtran.com, she said.
Eventually, all systems and stations will be integrated into the Southwest network. The timeline is uncertain, Van Auken said.
“This is so big for us,” she said. “This really solidifies our future as the low-cost airport in Northeast Ohio with that relaxing atmosphere.”
There’s also no timeline as to when signs will be changed at the airport. Southwest hopes to obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of the first quarter, designating Southwest and AirTran as a single airline.
Of the 69 cities AirTran served when Southwest acquired it, 53 will be converted to full Southwest Airlines service.
“We are committed to continuing to serve these (53) communities — at first via AirTran, and eventually as Southwest,” said a statement from Bob Jordan, Southwest executive vice president and chief commercial officer, and AirTran president. “We know there are Southwest customers who want access to these cities, but have never before had the opportunity, and the markets have long desired Southwest service.
“At the same time, there are some markets that we simply cannot make work in the current fuel environment, so we’ve had to make the decision to discontinue service in those locations.”
Losing AirTran service effective Aug. 12 will be: Allentown, Pa.; Lexington, Ky.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Sarasota, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; and White Plains, N.Y.