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Sunday, March 27, 2011

AirTran Shareholders OK Southwest Merger

AirTran Airways shareholders on March 23 overwhelmingly approved the airline’s proposed merger with Southwest Airlines, but the more difficult hurdle to clear is still to come: getting the go-ahead from the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), which the carriers still are expecting to happen in the second quarter of this year.
The carriers also have filed for U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) approval to transfer AirTran’s international route authorities to Southwest after their deal closes—and for a temporary exemption from the requirement so they can operate under common control until a final ruling on the transfer is made.
The airlines noted that the DOT granted similar requests for the United/Continental and Delta/Northwest deals, and they said “well-established” DOT precedent creates a presumption in favor of approving route transfer applications if “they do not conflict with important international aviation policy objectives” and are “consistent with the public interest.” Their transfer will expand the variety of international services offered to consumers and connect more U.S. cities to the international air transportation system, the airlines said.

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