AirTran adds Las Vegas routes from six destinations

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AirTran launched six Las Vegas routes on Aug. 15 and 16 as part of the carriers Western expansion strategy, with the carrier having received its 50th 737 aircraft in July with 65 more on order through 2012.

The low-cost carrier, which has been serving Las Vegas from its Atlanta hub since 2003, also began service from Milwaukee on July 10 and will begin Indianapolis service on Dec. 20. Its Milwaukee and Indianapolis services are daily, but it will offer service three or four days a week on the other routes.

The six newest routes are from small cities: Akron/Canton, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Bloomington/Normal, Ill.; Moline/Quad Cities, Ill.; and Rochester, N.Y.

AirTran has tried to build up its Las Vegas service in the past. The airline added flights from Dallas/Fort Worth and Moline/Quad Cities in 2004 and Flint and Akron/Canton in 2005. But it pulled out because bookings and yields were not high enough to support the leisure-oriented routes, given high fuel costs and its limited number of long-haul aircraft.

Now AirTran has a lot more 737s, fuel costs are not quite as high and Las Vegas has a bit more conference-related business traffic, said airline spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver.

Most of AirTrans new service seems to mirror the strategy of another low-fare carrier, Allegiant, which links travelers from small cities to major leisure destinations such as Las Vegas.

Although AirTrans new Las Vegas routes will not be flying from any of the same airports as Allegiant, the carriers will be in some of the same markets.

Graham-Weaver, however, said AirTran was simply choosing airports from where AirTran already flies and where the airline has enjoyed success.

We try to stay focused on profitability, not our competitors, she said.

To contact reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].

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