Southwest takes over more AirTran flights

Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed.

Southwest Airlines continued its gradual integration of AirTran flights this week, announcing it has taken over service to several cities that had been served by AirTran up until Sunday.

Southwest said it is now providing nonstop flights between Charlotte and Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway), Houston (Hobby) and Orlando; between Flint, Mich., and Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, and Tampa Bay; between Portland, Maine and Baltimore/Washington; between Rochester, N.Y. and Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway), Orlando, and Tampa Bay; and between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Orlando and Tampa Bay.

AirTran ended service to Charlotte, Flint, Portland and Rochester on Sunday.

Ron Ricks, Southwest’s chief legal and regulatory officer, said in a statement that the integration of AirTran “remains on track.”

Southwest closed its acquisition of AirTran in 2011 and plans to finish integrating AirTran’s flights into its operation by 2015. This means gradually replacing AirTran’s flights with Southwest flights in the months ahead. Southwest still has to tackle AirTran’s flights out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. AirTran is the second-largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson after Delta Air Lines. Southwest began flying out of Hartsfield-Jackson last year.

Southwest’s and AirTran’s route networks are already fully connected. Travelers can book flights from a city served by AirTran to almost any city served by Southwest, and vice-versa —- provided they make connections. This will continue until the carriers are fully integrated.

The service to Puerto Rico marks the first time Southwest will fly outside the 48 contiguous states, the airline said. AirTran will continue to offer service between San Juan and Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.