AirTran Final Flight – The End of An Airline
AirTran Airways wasn’t always AirTran Airways. Before AirTran Airways there was ValuJet, a southern Florida based airline. In 1993, ValuJet began operations throughout the southern United States. ValuJet grew from the south up. It established a pretty large eastern US and Canada route network. The airline, at its peak, had over 50 aircraft in its fleet consisting of DC-9s and MD-80s.
In 1996, a flight from Miami to Atlanta crashed in the Everglades. This crashed crippled ValuJet. The airline received a lot of scrutiny and most of its polices came under fire. The airline was limited to 15 aircraft, down from over 50 and flew to a fraction of its original destinations.
ValuJet never recovered from flight 592 and merged with another smaller airline. This lead to the birth of AirTran.
AirTran grew quick. The airline prided itself on low-cost but reliable service throughout the US. With its fleet of 717s, 737s, leased a320s, and short-lived CRJ-200s, AirTran flew to over 60 cities throughout North America.
AirTran had a main cabin and business class cabin. Fares were low as part of its business plan. AirTran didn’t want low fares to eliminate service so many full-fare airline services were retained. The airline became popular among the South and Eastern US.
However, with the introduction of Frontier, Spirit, and the rapid expansion of Southwest Airlines, AirTran took a big hit. In 2010, Southwest Airlines merged with AirTran. After a rocky 4 years, AirTran and Southwest became one and on December 29th, 2014 the airline celebrated its final flight. AirTran flight 1 landed safely a little past 10:00pm on December 28. The stand-by list had over 800 stand-bys.
The remaining 717s were leased to Delta Air Lines or flown to the desert to be scrapped.