AirTran reduces reliance on Atlanta; Milwaukee network grows to 17 routes this summer

Image: Lee Greenwood
Earlier this month AirTran launched new daily nonstop services from Branson Airport – the first privately-financed and operated commercial airport in the United States – to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. US country singer and National icon Lee Greenwood was a special guest.

AirTran has achieved phenomenal growth during the last decade. From its main base at the world’s busiest airport (Atlanta Hartsfield) it has grown more than fourfold between 1998 and 2007. Even in 2008 the airline, with a fleet of 136 Boeing aircraft (86 717s and 50 737s with an average age of less than six years), carried almost one million more passengers than in the previous year.

The airline recently reported that it had decided to dramatically reduce its aircraft growth plans so that instead of growing to 200 aircraft by 2012 it will grow to just 150 aircraft by then, having deferred or sold 47 aircraft from its 2008-2011 fleet plan.

Chart: Air Tran traffic 97 to 98
Source: AirTran

According to current OAG schedule data AirTran operates to 55 airports in the US plus Cancun in Mexico and San Juan in Puerto Rico, plus various seasonal routes. In 2008 the airline flew for the first time to Burlington (Vermont), Columbus (Ohio), Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), San Antonio (Texas) and San Juan. So far in 2009 it has added Cancun and Branson (Missouri).

Image: Atlanta routes

The key feature of the airline’s route development in recent years has been to reduce its reliance on its home base at Atlanta. In 2000 some 92% of flights either started or finished at the Georgia hub. Last year that figure had been reduced to 62% and is expected to fall further to 58% in 2009. While AirTran has increased the number of points served from Atlanta from 33 in 2000 to 57 in 2009, last year it did drop intra-state services to Savannah, just 350 kilometres from Atlanta.

Six destinations are served with at least eight daily frequencies, led by Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and New York LaGuardia. Tampa, Chicago Midway and Baltimore/Washington are the other routes served with at least 50 weekly flights.

Chart: Airline Development
Source: AirTran

Milwaukee gets several new routes in 2009

While overall network capacity is expected to fall slightly in 2009 from 713 daily flights to 687, Milwaukee will increase its route network to 17 destinations with the addition this year of new services to Boston, Branson, Denver, Minneapolis / St. Paul, San Diego, St Louis and Washington National.

Image: Danica Patrick
Once again AirTran was a minor sponsor of the Andretti/Green car driven by Danica Patrick at last weekend’s Indianapolis 500. After gradually working her way through the field Danica came home third behind Brazil’s Helio Castroneves and Britain’s Dan Wheldon. Last year she won her first Indy Racing League race at Motegi in Japan.

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