AirTran expands Caribbean flights

AirTran Airways is expanding its route map in the Caribbean, a key target for Southwest Airlines when the Dallas-based carrier buys AirTran later this year.

AirTran plans to new daily flights from Atlanta to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, starting Feb. 16, with the service trimmed to twice-weekly after Labor Day. AirTran, which has its largest hub in Atlanta, also begins new daily Atlanta-Bermuda flights on May 26, as a seasonal route through Sept. 6.

The carrier is also expanding its service from Atlanta to Aruba from twice-weekly to daily flights for two months this spring, and it is expanding its Cancun service from once to twice daily.

Delta Air Lines, the largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, also serves all of those markets.

AirTran spokesman Christopher White said AirTran is expanding its Caribbean route network as it slightly increases capacity this year.

Southwest's buyout of AirTran is expected to close in the second quarter. Southwest said AirTran's international routes -- mainly flights to short-haul destinations in the Caribbean -- were among the assets it was targeting.

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