DALLAS — Southwest Airlines Co. said Friday that it would keep flying to 22 cities served by AirTran Airways but end flights to six others — raising the final cut list to 15 AirTran locations — as it combines the two airlines.
The dropped cities are smaller than typical Southwest markets and include Allentown, Pa., and Sarasota, Fla. Southwest said it couldn’t afford to serve such markets with today’s high jet fuel prices.
The decision ended months of suspense after Southwest bought AirTran in May. AirTran served 69 cities, including many also served by Southwest.
Besides the overlapping cities, the 22 non-Southwest destinations that the company will keep include airports in Mexico, the Caribbean and the Midwest and eastern half of the United States. Among them: Charlotte, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn., and Richmond, Va.
Outside the U.S., the airline will serve Cancun, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Aruba; Bermuda; and Nassau, Bahamas. It will also keep Mexico City, where AirTran plans to begin flying in May, and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, where AirTran has set a June launch.
Southwest and AirTran operate as separate airlines, but Southwest intends to combine the two starting this year. AirTran employees in the 22 surviving cities will eventually wear Southwest uniforms, although the switch could take several years.
Southwest announced Friday that on Aug. 12, AirTran will pull out of Allentown and Harrisburg, Pa.; Lexington, Ky.; Sarasota, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; and White Plains, N.Y.
The Dallas-based company had previously said that it would halt AirTran service at Miami; Knoxville, Tenn.; Asheville, N.C.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Bloomington and Moline, Ill.; Charleston, W.V.; and Newport News, Va.
AirTran ended flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in November — Southwest flies out of nearby Dallas Love Field. AirTran will also depart Dulles Airport outside Washington, but Southwest flies there.
The changes announced Friday will be included in new schedules that Southwest and AirTran will publish Sunday.
The 22 U.S. cities served by AirTran that will eventually switch to Southwest service are: Flint and Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y.; Pensacola and Key West, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Dayton, Ohio; Richmond, Va.; Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Akron-Canton, Ohio; Wichita, Kan.; Des Moines, Iowa; Branson, Mo.; Portland, Maine.