By Michael Garko, In Airline News
The AirTran brand will become an aviation memory by the end of 2014 according to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
“The AirTran brand will be retired by the end of the year” Kelly told WABE radio of Atlanta in an interview on Sunday.
In the interview, Kelly says high fuel prices and other economics caused the delay in the absorbing of the AirTran brand. “Fuel prices are significantly higher than they were in 2010,” Kelly stated in the interview. “That changed quite a few things for us.”
One of those changes included the accelerated phase out of Boeing 717 aircraft. The Boeing 717 jets operated by AirTran became “a less desirable airplane for the way that we operate. So we changed our mind about that and decided to retire that aircraft early in favor of replacing it with 737s.”
“The other change that we made … is that we decided not to continue to operate Atlanta as a hub-and-spoke system,” added Kelly.
Many industry experts expected the process to be complete by mid-year 2014, a date that now seems unlikely.