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AirTran hints at allying with another airline

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17_37
Written by editor

AirTran Airways has discussed a possible alliance with another airline that would allow each carrier to sell seats on the other’s airplanes.

AirTran Airways has discussed a possible alliance with another airline that would allow each carrier to sell seats on the other’s airplanes.

“We’ve had code-share conversations,” Kevin Healy, AirTran’s senior vice president for marketing and planning, said in an interview Thursday. He would not identify which airline AirTran might partner with.

His comment came after AirTran Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Fornaro signaled that the Orlando-based airline could welcome an arrangement with fellow low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines.

“We have some strength in markets they don’t participate in, and vice versa,” Fornaro said, after being asked about the prospect on a conference call. “I think, if Southwest was interested in talking, we’d certainly be willing to listen.”

A Southwest spokeswoman said the Dallas-based airline does “not provide details on potential partnerships.” She said Southwest, which announced a code-share with Canadian discounter WestJet earlier this year, is focused on expanding its reach into Canada and Mexico.

AirTran has historically relied on a low-cost reservation system that lacked the capability to integrate with other airlines’ computers. But Fornaro said AirTran has developed code-sharing capability during the past two years.

Another possible partner for AirTran could be Denver-based Frontier Airlines, also a low-cost carrier. AirTran and Frontier already have a limited marketing alliance.