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AirTran may be going away, but no doubt Southwest has learned much about fees from the low-cost carrier.
Another name in aviation history will disappear after the final flight of AirTran Airways, which is scheduled for Dec. 28.
The Atlanta-to-Tampa, Florida, trip has been designated AirTran Flight 1 and will retrace the route taken by a predecessor airline’s first flight in October 1993.
Then it was known as ValuJet Airlines, a fast-growing, low-cost carrier that flew mostly in the eastern U.S. The airline changed its name through a merger after a 1996 crash in the Everglades that killed all 110 people on board. Investigators blamed the crash shortly after takeoff from Miami on a fire that started with improperly handled oxygen generators in the cargo hold.
Southwest Airlines Co. bought AirTran in 2011 for $1.4 billion and announced plans to combine the fleets under the Southwest brand. It is repainting AirTran’s Boeing 737 jets and selling the smaller Boeing 717 planes to Delta Air Lines Inc. A Southwest spokesman said Thursday that there are still a few employees who started at ValuJet.
Southwest does not currently fly beyond the United States, but starting in July it will take over AirTran service to several destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, it is shuttering service at some of AirTran’s smaller destinations in the U.S.