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Southwest to expand with AirTran buy

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BOB MOON: Southwest will takeover AirTran. It’s a 3.4 billion transaction that gives Southwest access to some big new markets. Marketplace’s John Dimsdale joins us from Washington. John, why is this such a big deal for Southwest?

JOHN DIMSDALE: Well until now, Southwest had been sort of the Wal-Mart of the airline industry. It kept fares low, in part, by steering clear of the major markets. Instead of flying into Boston, for example, it first set up shop in Providence, R.I. and Manchester, N.H. AirTran’s airport operations gives Southwest the ability to expand their operations at Logan in Boston, LaGuardia in New York and most notably the huge hub in Atlanta.

MOON: Why would Southwest be looking for that kind of expansion now?

DIMSDALE: Well, they’ve been really successful in the markets they’re in. This will allow the company to grow even larger with new destinations in Florida and even some international airports in the Caribbean. So this is the next logical step for Southwest.

MOON: Marketplace’s John Dimsdale, thanks.

DIMSDALE: You’re welcome.

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