Southwest Airlines is intending to close on its planned purchase of AirTran Holdings, Inc., the parent company of AirTran Airways, on May 2.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is also expecting to appoint Bob Jordan, its executive vice president strategy and planning, as president of AirTran Airways to help guide AirTran through its integration with Southwest.
“With the overwhelming approval of AirTran stockholders in March, we are ready to move forward with closing the transaction, now planned forMay 2nd,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman, president and CEO, on April 21, when Southwest announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2011.
“We anticipate that all necessary regulatory approvals will be obtained by that date,” added Kelly. “We look forward to that milestone day, first and foremost, so that we can begin the exciting work to integrate AirTran into Southwest, and welcome the AirTran crew members fully into the Southwest family.”
After completion of the AirTran purchase, Jordan would continue reporting to Kelly and would maintain his current responsibilities for Southwest’s technology, finance, internal audit, and corporate planning departments, while leading AirTran Airways through the transition period until full integration with Southwest is achieved in 2013.
Jordan will continue to serve on the joint Integration Board, which consists of Gary Kelly; Bob Fornaro, AirTran’s CEO; Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s executive vice president and chief operating officer; Loral Blinde, AirTran’s senior vice president human resources and administration; and Jeff Lamb, Southwest’s senior vice president administration and chief people officer.
The Integration Board will continue to provide overall direction of the integration efforts. Southwest says this organizational structure, along with the integration leadership roles that Lamb and Blinde have, will continue after its purchase of AirTran closes. After the transaction closes, Bob Fornaro will move to a new role as a full-time consultant for the integration of the two airlines, working closely with Kelly and Jordan to ensure a smooth transition.
Southwest expects to obtain a single operating certificate for the two airlines in 2012, allowing the AirTran operation to be mreged into Southwest Airlines under the latter carrier’s name. Southwest says that, until this is achieved, AirTran’s operational departments will continue their existing reporting relationships under the leadership of Klaus Goersch, AirTran’s executive vice president operations and customer service. Goersch would report directly to Jordan, and he would work closely with Van de Ven, who would assume overall leadership for the operations of both airlines.
The remainder of the organizational structure for AirTran will be refined over the next few weeks and communicated after the transaction closes, according top Southwest.
On September 27, 2010, Southwest Airlines entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of AirTran for a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines’ common stock.
Southwest has said the combination with AirTran will serve more than 100 destinations, including four new airports added by the carriers in 2011. It estimates that this will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings for consumers. These fare savings will result from expanding the “Southwest Effect” of reducing fares and stimulating passenger traffic at destinations Southwest serves, according to vthe airline.