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TMCNet:  Southwest Airlines And AirTran Airways Begin Connecting Networks

[February 14, 2013]

Southwest Airlines And AirTran Airways Begin Connecting Networks

DALLAS, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Luv is in the air! Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) announced today that it is taking the next step in its marriage with subsidiary, AirTran Airways. Customers are now able to purchase a growing number of itineraries between the Southwest and AirTran networks for travel on a single itinerary. Soon, Customers will be able to book flights to any of the airlines' combined 97 destinations, including international, in one transaction.

"Connecting the networks is a priority in 2013 and a major milestone as we work to combine our two Companies," said Bob Jordan, Chief Commercial Officer at Southwest Airlines and President of AirTran. "With a connected network, we can offer Customers more itineraries, more destinations, more low fares, and a taste of what's to come once the integration is complete." Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways took the first step in connecting their networks on Jan. 26, 2013, by offering a small number of shared itineraries in five markets. The initial phase was successful, and the airlines are prepared to launch in 39 cities on Feb. 25, 2013. The airline is on pace to fully connect the networks in April.

By connecting the Southwest and AirTran networks, Customers may: -- Add one or more AirTran domestic flight segments to a Southwest itinerary, using Southwest booking channels (southwest.com, 1-800-IFLYSWA, travel agencies, Southwest's mobile site and apps, and Southwest Airlines ticket counters).

-- Book one or more Southwest flight segments connecting to an AirTran itinerary, using AirTran channels (airtran.com, 1-800-AIRTRAN, AirTran Airways ticket counters, and travel agencies).

-- Use all Southwest channels to book an AirTran-only domestic itinerary.

-- Add an international AirTran segment to a Southwest itinerary within a single reservation, through a Customer-friendly transfer of the transaction to AirTran channels for booking, purchase, and ticketing by AirTran.

-- Earn currency in either loyalty program no matter which carrier they fly. (The currency a Customer earns is determined by the carrier from which they buy their ticket, even if flying on a shared itinerary.) As is standard with industry "code share" arrangements, the Marketing Carrier's rules and policies apply to reservations and ticketing. The Operating Carrier's procedures apply to boarding, seating, and the onboard experience. Southwest is making one exception: any itinerary with a Southwest segment or that is purchased through a Southwest point-of-sale channel will not have bag fees for the first or second checked bag (weight and size restrictions apply). Customers can find specific details and answers to frequently asked questions by visiting www.southwest.com.

Customers will continue to earn and redeem currency through the frequent flyer loyalty programs of their Marketing Carrier, regardless of the Operating Carrier they travel on. Customers should be enrolled in both Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and AirTran Airways A+ Rewards programs in order to earn currency from whichever airline they purchase a ticket. Loyalty Members also have the ability to transfer their currency between the two loyalty programs. For more information about transferring loyalty currency, visit www.rewardsfarther.com.

Southwest Airlines announced plans to acquire AirTran Airways on Sept. 27, 2010, an acquisition that significantly expanded Southwest Airlines' low-fare service to more Customers in more domestic markets, creating hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public. Since Southwest Airlines closed the deal to purchase AirTran Airways on May 2, 2011, Southwest and AirTran Employees have worked hard to guarantee a thoughtful and smooth integration process while providing the same high level of Customer Service that Customers have come to expect. To date, Southwest Airlines has welcomed 29 percent of AirTran Employees to the Southwest Family, has converted 11 AirTran Airways 737-700 aircraft to the Southwest paint scheme and interior configuration, and has transitioned five AirTran Airways-served cities into Southwest Airlines operations.

The process of a full integration of the AirTran Airways 737 fleet into the Southwest Airlines fleet (i.e. paint scheme and interior configuration) and transition to a single ticketing system is a large and complex process that is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. Southwest Airlines realized $142 million of net, annualized, pre-tax synergies during 2012, and expects to achieve $400 million in 2013 (excluding acquisition and integration expenses).

ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.In its 42nd year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating passengers boarded, and including wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world to serve 97 destinations in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and six near-international countries. Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for its commitment to the triple bottom line of Performance, People and Planet. To read about how Southwest is doing its part to be a good corporate citizen, visit southwest.com/citizenship to read the Southwest Airlines One Report(TM).

Southwest AirlinesFrom its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel quantified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic wherever the carrier serves. On every flight, Southwest offers Customers the first two pieces of checked luggage (weight and size limitations apply) and all ticket changes without additional fees. Southwest's all Boeing fleet consistently offers leather seating and the comfort of full-size cabins, many of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi connectivity and a new, eco-friendly cabin interior. With 40 consecutive years of profitability, the People of Southwest operate more than 3,100 flights a day and serve communities around 78 airports in Southwest's network of domestic destinations. Southwest Airlines' frequent flights and low fares are available only at southwest.com.

AirTran AirwaysAirTran Airways, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines Co., offers coast-to-coast and near-international service with close to 600 flights a day to 54 destinations. The carrier's high-quality product includes assigned seating and Business Class. As Southwest continues to integrate AirTran's People, places, and planes into Southwest Airlines, Customers of both carriers may book flights at airtran.com and exchange earned loyalty points between both AirTran's A+ Rewards® and Southwest's Rapid Rewards® for reward travel on either airline.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements This news release contains forward-looking statements with respect to the Company's integration of AirTran and the connection of the Southwest and AirTran networks. Specific forward-looking statements include without limitation statements related to (i) the expected customer benefits associated with the connection of the Southwest and AirTran networks and the anticipated timeline for implementation of network integration; (ii) the anticipated timeline for full integration of the AirTran fleet into the Southwest fleet, as well as for the transition to a single ticketing system; and (iii) the expected benefits and costs associated with the integration generally. These forward-looking statements are based on the Company's current intent, expectations, and projections and are not guarantees of future performance. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) the Company's ability to timely and effectively implement, transition, and maintain the necessary information technology systems and infrastructure to support its integration of AirTran; (ii) the Company's ability to timely and effectively prioritize its other initiatives and related expenditures; (iii) the impact of the economy, fuel prices, and customer demand on the Company's results operations and business decisions; and (iv) other factors, as described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the detailed factors discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012.

SOURCE Southwest Airlines http://rt.prnewswire.com/rt.gif NewsItemId=DA60581&Transmission_Id=201302141500PR_NEWS_USPR_____DA60581&DateId=20130214

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