AirTran Airways will operate its last flight at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Monday evening when Flight 102 departs at 6:27 p.m. (as scheduled).

The 2006 Wright amendment compromise would penalize AirTran’s new owner, Southwest Airlines, if it continued to operate its subsidiary, AirTran, out of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Therefore, AirTran ceases its daily service as of Monday.

Why Monday? When Southwest closed its purchase of AirTran on May 2, Nov. 21 was how far out AirTran was selling tickets at the time. Despite pressure from some Dallas/Fort Worth Airport board members, Southwest declined to end the flights before Nov. 21 since it would had to re-arrange some already booked passengers.

Its departures ends 14½ years of continuous AirTran service to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. It entered the market in April 1997 while still operating as ValuJet, shortly before its merger with AirTran Airways and its subsequent renaming.

Its arrival in 1997 actually marked its second foray into the North Texas market. It originally operated Atlanta-DFW flights from July 1994 to June 1996, when the Federal Aviation Administration grounded the carrier because of safety concerns.

Southwest Airlines executive vice president Bob Jordan, who also serves at AirTran’s president, sent out a “great big thank you for all your hard work” Monday to the 40 AirTran employees who have been stationed at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

AirTran passenger counts at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Year Passengers
2003 401,049
2004 635,935
2005 880,503
2006 850,763
2007 648,373
2008 668,052
2009 615,669
2010 651,165
2011 481,494*

*Through Sept. 30, 2011

On Feb. 12, Southwest begins Atlanta service with flights to two cities inside the Wright amendment boundaries, Austin and Houston Hobby. Those flights will allow those passengers so inclined to have one-stop service between Dallas Love Field and Atlanta.

Southwest’s February schedule has four direct flights between Atlanta and Love Field that have one stop but no airplane change required. That increases to five in the June 3 schedule.

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