Southwest CEO on Future Merger: No Current Airline Like AirTran

Credit Dylan Ashe / via Wikimedia Commons

  Southwest Airlines continues its merger with AirTran Airways, which operates its main hub in Atlanta.

But not at the pace planned when the deal was announced in 2010.

Dallas-based Southwest never hinted the integration would be quick.  Initially, executives planned to finish it early this year.  

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says high fuel prices partly slowed the process.

“The AirTran brand will be retired by the end of the year.”  

2014 will be a watershed year for the airline as it launches international service and completes the merger.  Southwest will also fly nonstop between Dallas Love Field and cities beyond Texas and its border states.

A federal law known as the Wright Amendment has prevented that for 34 years. It expires in October.

“Any one of those things most years would be for a really highlight year.”

As far as last week’s weather and flight cancelations, Kelly says it’s unlikely they’ll have much effect on the airline’s first-quarter earnings. 

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly's interview with Jim Burress, as heard on WABE's Morning Edition.