DALLAS – Southwest Airlines said today it intends to close on its transaction to acquire AirTran Holdings, Inc., on May 2, 2011. Upon close, Southwest also said it anticipates that Bob Jordan, Southwest’s Executive Vice President Strategy and Planning, will be appointed as President of AirTran Airways to help guide AirTran through its integration with Southwest.
“With the overwhelming approval of AirTran stockholders in March, we are ready to move forward with closing the transaction, now planned for May 2nd,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman, President, and CEO. “We anticipate that all necessary regulatory approvals will be obtained by that date. We look forward to that milestone day, first and foremost, so that we can begin the exciting work to integrate AirTran into Southwest, and welcome the AirTran Crew Members fully into the Southwest Family.”
Upon close, Jordan would continue reporting to Kelly, and maintain his current responsibilities for Southwest’s Technology, Finance, Internal Audit, and Corporate Planning Departments, while leading AirTran through the transition period until full integration with Southwest is achieved in 2013.
Jordan will continue to serve on the joint Integration Board consisting of Gary Kelly, Bob Fornaro (AirTran CEO), Mike Van de Ven (Southwest Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer), Loral Blinde (AirTran Senior Vice President Human Resources and Administration), and Jeff Lamb (Southwest Senior Vice President Administration & Chief People Officer). The Integration Board will continue to provide overall direction of the integration efforts. This structure, along with the Integration Leadership roles that Lamb and Blinde have, will continue after closing of the transaction. Bob Fornaro, after the transaction close, will move to a new role as a full-time consultant for the integration of the two airlines, working closely with Kelly and Jordan to ensure a smooth transition.
Until a single operating certificate is achieved as expected in 2012, AirTran operational Departments will continue their existing reporting relationships under the Leadership of Klaus Goersch, AirTran’s Executive Vice President Operations and Customer Service. Goersch would report directly to Jordan, and he would work closely with Van de Ven, who would assume the overall Leadership for the operations of both airlines.
The remainder of the organizational structure for AirTran will be refined over the next few weeks and communicated after the transaction closes.
On September 27, 2010, Southwest Airlines announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of AirTran for a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines’ common stock. Southwest has said the combination with AirTran will serve more than 100 destinations, including four new airports added by the carriers in 2011. It estimates that this will generate hundreds of millions in annual savings for consumers. These fare savings will result from expanding the well-known “Southwest Effect” of reducing fares and stimulating passenger traffic wherever Southwest flies.