By Keith Laing - 03/23/11 09:37 PM EDT
AirTran President Bob Fornaro hailed the shareholder vote.
"We are grateful for our stockholders' strong vote of confidence in this merger," Fornaro said in a statement. "In approving the transaction, our stockholders recognized the value of bringing together AirTran and Southwest to create a platform for increased profitability and sustainable long-term value."
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly lauded the AirTran shareholders as well.
"We appreciate the confidence AirTran shareholders have in Southwest to continue the good work of AirTran's hardworking crew members who have made AirTran a successful airline over the past 17 years," Kelly said in a statement released by his airline.
"This approval is another important and exciting step toward completing the transaction and beginning the integration of AirTran into Southwest to ultimately serve the flying public as one carrier."
Federal regulators have approved two other airline combinations
recently, allowing Delta and Northwest airlines and United and
Continental airlines to merge.
A deal with AirTran's flight attendant union covering the conditions at the newly formed joint airline was reached this week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.
The airlines will continue operating separately until their merger is approved, but they have launched a joint website, at www.lowfaresfarther.com.