The Southwest-AirTran merger has proven a boon for bigger cities like Atlanta, as Southwest purposely zeroed in on the Delta hub city’s lucrative business travel market, but smaller cities are scrambling.
Cities Feeling the Pain
According the USA Today, 15 communities have lost (or will lose) AirTran service and won’t be getting Southwest flights either. A partial list:
- Charleston WV
- Newport News/Williamsburg
- Sarasota Bradenton*
- White Plains*
*Service ends in August.
AirTran Loss Means Higher Airfares
For some travelers, this is a huge financial blow. As USA Today reports, “since AirTran ceased service to Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., on Jan. 6, the airport figures that overall fares have risen 31%.”
Some Airlines to Pick Up AirTran Slack
We’ve already seen announcements by smaller carriers like Spirit and Allegiant that are moving into some of these markets, but local communities worry if it will be enough to keep travelers at their airports instead of driving to larger facilities nearby.
However, as airfare analyst Rick Seaney notes, this is an era of consolidation for airlines where “cutting costs by cutting capacity” is the order of the day.