By Keith Laing - 05/02/11 05:20 PM EDT
"The acquisition of AirTran represents a unique opportunity to extend our network into key markets we don't yet serve, such as Atlanta and Washington, D.C., via Ronald Reagan National Airport," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement.
"It gives us the opportunity to serve more than 100 million customers annually from more than 100 different airports in the U.S. and near-international destinations, providing customers more low-fare destinations as we diversify and expand the well-known 'Southwest Effect' to hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public."
Kelly also put out that the merger would give Southwest access "near-international markets in the Caribbean and Mexico."
Southwest and AirTran are not expected to be fully integrated for two years. The fully merged company will operate under the Southwest name.