Busy Times in the World of AirTran

AirTran, JetBlue, Mergers/Finance, Midwest Airlines

AirTran has a lot going on these days. First and foremost, they continue to beg and plead Midwest to let them buy the airline. But that doesn’t mean that everything else is standing still. Nay. In fact, they’ve announced some route expansion in the last couple of days. And once again they’re under attack by JetBlue. Never a dull moment for TAFKAV (That would be, The Airline Formerly Known as Valujet.)

So how is that merger attempt going? Not so well. Apparently Wisconsin laws are pretty strict when it comes to hostile takeovers. Since Midwest doesn’t want to marry AirTran, those laws are coming in handy right now. The latest is that Midwest won’t hand over its shareholder list to AirTran and AirTran is suing them under a New York statute requiring they do so. Wisconsin laws, however, may prevent Midwest from having to comply. In short, this merger is going nowhere fast right now. Midwest continues to move forward with its plan to stay independent, and the airline just announced new Seattle flights yesterday.

And what about AirTran’s new flights? Well, first of all they’re going to begin summer seasonal daily flights between Atlanta and San Diego on May 24. Not quite sure why that’s seasonal. You’d think San Diego would be big enough for year round service, but maybe they need those planes elsewhere during the winter.

Meanwhile, in their ongoing quest to find another minihub, they’ve decided to push in St Louis. Now there’s an airport with a lot of room. Ever since American gobbled up TWA, there has been plenty of open terminal space. AirTran moves in on May 8 with four daily flights to Atlanta. Beginning June 7, they’ll have a daily nonstop to Orlando as well. I imagine that if these flights do well, there will be a lot more coming. Then again, AirTran has a habit of starting and stopping flights at the drop of a hat, so this could go the other way as well.

And lastly, in yet another example of when copying is not considered to be the sincerest form of flattery, JetBlue announced they’ll start flying from White Plains (New York) on March 28. What does this have to do with AirTran? Well once again, JetBlue has entered markets right after AirTran starts them. These guys can’t get a break.

JetBlue will have two daily flights to Orlando, one to Ft Lauderdale, and one to West Palm Beach. Not surprisingly, AirTran has an identical schedule in those markets though the flights are at different times. JetBlue is making a habit of this, and I’m sure AirTran is not happy.

Just another week in the life of AirTran.

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