Dept. of Justice clears Southwest-AirTran merger

The merger of two of the largest low-fare airlines received clearance Tuesday from the Department of Justice, which said the combination of Southwest and AirTran airlines would not violate federal antitrust laws.

Southwest announced the completion of the DoJ review, calling it "one of the final steps toward closing the transaction" between it and AirTran Airways. The airlines announced last year they had agreed to a $1.4 billion deal for the Dallas-based Southwest to takeover AirTran, which is headquartered in Orlando.

Southwest officials have said they expect the deal to be closed by May 2, though the airlines are expected to operate separately in the initial stages of its merger. They are not expected to be fully integrated for two years.

The fully merged company will operate under the Southwest name.