DOJ Gives Thumbs Up To Southwest's Purchase Of AirTran

Seems like it was just seven months ago that we first wrote about the proposed sale of AirTran to Southwest Airlines for $1.4 billion. Now that deal is all but done after it passed the Justice Department’s antitrust review yesterday.

According to the DOJ, the merger, which is now expected to close next week, “is not likely to substantially lessen competition.”

From the Wall Street Journal:

While there is some overlap between the airlines on certain nonstop routes, the combined carrier would offer service on routes that neither AirTran nor Southwest currently serve, the department said.

Airports where both AirTran and Southwest service overlap aren’t subject to slot restrictions or gate availability, the Justice Department said. If there were such limitations, the acquisition may have faced more resistance, because it might have made the entry of other airlines “particularly difficult.”

This latest airline merger — coming in the wake of Delta/Northwest and United/Continental — has drawn mixed reviews from Consumerist readers. Some have expressed disappointment about having fewer airline options; others were delighted to hear of AirTran’s eventual demise; and there were those who believed the deal has promise because it will expand the number of destinations available for frequent fliers of both carriers.

U.S. Clears Merger of Southwest, AirTran [Wall Street Journal]