Southwest to convert four more AirTran markets

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Southwest Airlines will convert four additional AirTran Airways destinations to Southwest from its April 2013 schedule, which will be published this week.

The four cities are Charlotte, North Carolina; Flint, Michigan; Portland, Maine and Rochester, New York.

Southwest closed on its acquisition of AirTran in May 2011 and is in the process of integrating both carriers' operations. The two airlines expect to connect their networks early next year when it launches full codesharing across both networks, with the exception of AirTran's international flights. Southwest is in the process of making changes to its reservations system so it can handle AirTran's international flights in 2014.

In the third quarter, AirTran ceased operations in six cities as part of the ongoing work to integrate the airlines' networks, taking to 16 the total number of markets dropped from AirTran's network since the acquisition. The 16 markets are: Allentown and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Lexington, Kentucky; Sarasota, Florida; Huntsville, Alabama; White Plains, New York; Asheville, North Carolina; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Newport News, Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee; Miami, Florida; Bloomington, Illinois; Charleston, West Virginia; Washington Dulles, District of Columbia; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; and Moline, Illinois.

AirTran's 52 Boeing 737-700s are being reconfigured with Southwest's interiors and livery. Nine aircraft have been converted and Southwest has said it aims to complete 11 aircraft this year.

Southwest has completed seniority list integrations for seven of the eight impacted unions, says Southwest chief executive and president Gary Kelly. He adds that the carrier has achieved about $110 million in pre-tax synergies in the first three quarters of 2012, and is aiming for $400 million in such synergies in 2013 excluding acquisition expenses.