Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines says passengers will get access to "hundreds" of new connecting itineraries early next year when it launches full codesharing with its subsidiary AirTran Airways, which it acquired in May 2011.
"We've got a lot of opportunities in Atlanta, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Orlando where we share a lot of service with AirTran," says Southwest executive vice president and chief commercial officer Bob Jordan, who is also AirTran's president, in an earnings call today.
There will be "hundreds of new itineraries that can be booked" that cannot be bought today, he adds.
Southwest has said that passengers will be able to book flights on both airlines on either carrier's website in the first quarter of 2013. This however excludes AirTran's international flights, which Southwest's current reservations system is unable to sell. It has contracted Amadeus to launch a reservations system that will allow it to do so in 2014.
Southwest has said it aims to launch more international flights once this happens, and Southwest chief executive and president Gary Kelly indicates today that new domestic opportunities, such as Hawaii and Alaska, are also being looked at.
The airline is in the process of integrating AirTran's operations with its own, which includes converting AirTran's 52 Boeing 737-700s to Southwest's interiors and livery. Nine aircraft has been completed so far, says Kelly today. Kelly has said the airline aims to finish the work on 11 aircraft this year.
Another eight aircraft are being operated on AirTran's Puerto Rico flights, and Kelly has said Southwest will be ready to operate these once it wins approval from its flight attendants to allow it to fly over water and to international destinations. Southwest's flight attendants voted in favour of this last month.
The remaining 33 737-700s operated by AirTran on international flights will transition to Southwest's colours and interiors in 2014 after the airline's new reservations system is in place.