Southwest Airlines announced Monday it will purchase AirTran Airlines in a $1.4 billion acquisition, a deal that will expand the no-fees-on-bags airline in the D.C. area and bring it to Reagan National Airport.
Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, said in a statement the deal will “allow us to better respond to the economic and competitive challenges of our industry. ... It offers customers more low-fare destinations as we extend our network and diversify into new markets… [including] Washington D.C. via Ronald Reagan National Airport.”
The acquisition will also expand Southwest in Atlanta, New York LaGuardia, Boston Logan and BWI Thurgood Marshall, where AirTran is the dominant airline.
Southwest will also acquire some international flights in the Caribbean and Mexico.
The airline says its combined organization would have nearly 43,000 employees and serve more than 100 million customers from more than 100 domestic and international airports. Southwest’s revenue last year was $11.2 billion and AirTran profited $2.5 billion.
Board members from both companies approved the deal unanimously. It will now be subject to regulatory approval.