AirTran yields some routes
9:29 PM, Mar. 3, 2012 |
A Southwest Airlines jet lands at Chicago's Midway Airport as
another sits at a gate. The merger of Southwest and AirTran Airways
means changes in airline service for some cities. / Associated Press.
Atlantic City International Airport, within driving distance of
airports in Newark and Philadelphia that have Southwest, lost AirTran’s
daily nonstop service to Atlanta.
In May, Spirit Airlines will help
fill that void with a flight to Atlanta that will continue on to
Dallas, albeit with one daily round-trip flight rather than two. But
Spirit is a smaller airline that flies directly to each destination
without going through a central hub. “It still does not give us
connectivity to the national air network,” says Sharon Gordon, deputy
executive director of marketing
at the South Jersey Transportation Authority.
city leaders rejoiced when the Baltimore Orioles team chose the
southwest Florida community in 2010 as its spring-training home. They
calculated they’d draw enough baseball fans to justify spending $31
million to renovate their stadium.
year, they glimpsed a payoff. A record 115,000 fans showed up to watch
16 spring games in the first year the Orioles played in the rebuilt
stadium. The visitors, the city figures, spent about $156 apiece each
day in the area.
joy turned to worry in January, when city leaders learned that low-cost
AirTran Airways was ending nonstop flights to the Sarasota Bradenton
bring these people from out of town to start the economic wheel turning
several times, it’s got to be as convenient as possible for them to get
here,” says Steve Queior, president of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of
loss of non-top service from such places as Baltimore and Milwaukee is
just one of the side effects of AirTran’s merger with bigger low-cost
carrier Southwest. Fourteen other cities have also learned that they’d
be losing AirTran and not picking up Southwest service. Some of them
depended on AirTran for a quarter or more of their air traffic in and
out of their cities.
U.S. airlines continue to consolidate, travelers in many small and
midsize cities are losing some connections to the nation’s air network.
The departure of low-cost carriers is a particular blow because many
rely on them to keep fares in check. Since AirTran ceased service to
Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., on Jan. 6, for
instance, the airport figures that overall fares have risen 31 percent.
Southwest-AirTran merger leaves cities — including Knoxvillle, Tenn.;
Lexington, Ky.; and Harrisburg, Pa. —scrambling to lure other airlines
to their airports at a time when there are fewer carriers out there.
a cold hard fact that many communities around the country are losing
their air service, not just from these mergers but from the cuts in
capacity from American, United, Continental, Delta,” says William
Swelbar, a research engineer at MIT’s International Center for Air
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