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Southwest Airlines to buy AirTran for $1.4B

The control tower at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The airport's largest airline, Southwest, has acquired AirTran, a smaller airline, for about $1.4 billion.

By AP/St. Louis Public Radio

DALLAS – Southwest Airlines, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's largest airline, is buying AirTran for about $1.4 billion as it seeks entry into a number of smaller markets.

The announcement comes about a week after Continental Airlines and UAL Corp. combined amid an industry-wide consolidation.

The companies said Monday that the new Southwest-Airtran operation would operate from more than 100 different airports and serve more than 100 million customers.

The deal is worth approximately $3.4 billion including AirTran's debt. It will pay about $670 million with available cash.

Southwest Airlines Co. gets more exposure to existing markets like New York and Boston and it can get into smaller markets it doesn't already serve.

Shares of AirTran Holdings Inc. rose nearly 4 percent to $4.55 in premarket trading.


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