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Southwest to continue AirTran service at two Virginia airports

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Dallas-based Southwest Airlines today said it would continue to serve 22 U.S. and international airports, including Richmond International Airport and Reagan National Airport in Arlington, that now have AirTran Airways flights.

AirTran operations at the airports eventually will be converted to Southwest flights. Southwest acquired AirTran in May last year and made it a subsidiary.

Southwest will end service at six U.S. airports now served by AirTran in August. They are Allentown, Pa.; Lexington, Ky.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Sarasota, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; and White Plains, N.Y.

Airline officials blamed high fuel costs for dropping those airports.

AirTran announced last year that it would stop service at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in March.

“We are committed to continuing to serve these communities — at first via AirTran and eventually as Southwest. We know there are Southwest customers who want access to these cities but have never before had the opportunity, and the markets have long desired Southwest service,” Bob Jordan, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Southwest Airlines, said in a statement. .

“We are excited about the cities we have chosen to keep in our combined network,”  said Jordan who also is president of AirTran Airways . “At the same time, there are some markets that we simply cannot make work in the current fuel environment, so we’ve had to make the decision to discontinue service in those locations.”

Of the 69 cities AirTran served when acquired by Southwest, 53 are scheduled to convert to full Southwest Airlines service.

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