US Department of Justice closes investigation of Southwest-AirTran merger


DALLAS – Southwest Airlines Co. and AirTran Holdings, Inc., the parent company of AirTran Airways (AirTran), today announced they have been notified by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) of the termination of its Hart-Scott-Rodino Act review and the closing of its investigation of the airlines’ pending merger.

AirTran stockholders approved the acquisition of AirTran by Southwest Airlines on March 23, 2011, which, when combined with DOJ approval and other regulatory clearances, constitutes one of the final steps toward closing the transaction. Southwest said previously that it plans to close on May 2, 2011.

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Upon closing, Southwest will turn its efforts to welcoming its new colleagues and integrating AirTran’s operations. Next steps also include beginning work on securing a Single Operating Certificate (SOC) from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is currently projected for completion in the first quarter of 2012.

On Sept. 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. The combination of AirTran and Southwest Airlines is expected to generate substantial benefits to consumers, including the expansion of low-fare competition in airline markets across the United States, the creation of broader network offerings with a wider range of consumer choices, improved quality and service, and the overall creation of a platform for new growth.

Southwest Airlines also would like to acknowledge the efforts of the United States Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration as the companies worked through this process.