Southwest to sell some combined AirTran itineraries in January

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Southwest Airlines will begin selling some combined flight itineraries with its subsidiary AirTran from January 2013, and aims to offer completely integrated schedules in April.

The airline closed on its acquisition of AirTran in May 2011 and is in the process of integrating both carriers, a process which is expected to complete by end-2014, says Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly at an investors day event today.

Complicating the integration process, however, is Southwest's current reservations system which is not able to handle the selling of AirTran's international flights. Southwest has contracted Amadeus to launch a reservations system that will allow it to do so in 2014.

The airline, in the meantime, will have a "soft roll-out" of some connecting itineraries between Southwest and AirTran in January 2013, says Kelly today. In the case of an itinerary that involves an international flight, it will be booked "behind the scenes" on AirTran's reservations system, he adds.

Southwest has said passengers will get access to "hundreds" of new connecting itineraries early next year when it launches full codesharing with AirTran.

The carrier is also in the process of converting AirTran's 52 Boeing 737-700s to Southwest's interiors and livery. Southwest has said it aims to complete the work on 11 aircraft this year.