Akron-Canton Airport officials are anxiously awaiting the official arrival of Southwest Airlines.
The date will be Aug. 12 as Southwest brings two daily nonstop flights to Chicago’s Midway International Airport, along with free baggage checking. It will mark the first use of Southwest planes at Akron-Canton since the company’s acquisition of AirTran.
“Without a doubt, Southwest’s arrival at Akron-Canton Airport is the most significant air service accomplishment in our 65-year history. It secures our place as the low-fare airport in the region for years to come,” said Kristie Van Auken, airport senior vice president and chief marketing communications officer.
“This is an exciting time at CAK, as we prepare for the arrival of Southwest. We’ve been recruiting them for 25 years and know that they will have a profound impact on both our ability to offer low fares and exceptional customer service for years to come,” she said.
Southwest bought AirTran Holdings Inc. in May 2011.
On Aug. 12, a new nonstop AirTran Airways flight to Denver that began June 3 will also become a Southwest flight, said Van Auken.
Eventually, all AirTran flights and operations at Akron-Canton Airport will become Southwest flights, but there has been no set date, said Van Auken.
On Aug. 12, Southwest will have three daily nonstop flights aboard Southwest planes and AirTran will go from 15 daily nonstops to 12 flights. The two AirTran daily Milwaukee nonstop flights will cease.
AirTran markets that remain are: (four flights to) Atlanta, (three) New York, (two) Boston, (two Orlando, (one) Tampa and seasonal service to Fort Myers, Fla., beginning again in November. That service will jump to two daily flights to Fort Myers in January and two daily flights to Tampa in February.
The carriers will share the current AirTran ticket and gate locations, and all employees will work for Southwest.
Shortly before Aug. 12, gate areas will be altered for Southwest boarding, said Van Auken.
Also Thursday, Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office announced that the airport would receive $3,483,450 from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The grant will be for rehabilitation of the taxiway and tarmac. The airport also will purchase a high-speed sweeper for winter use.
Separately on Thursday, Southwest said its second-quarter profit rose 42 percent as record revenue muted higher spending for fuel.
The profit of $228 million, or 30 cents a share, increased from $161 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier, the Dallas-based airline said. Adjusted earnings of 36 cents a share, excluding $45 million in one-time items, exceeded the 33-cent average of analysts’ estimates.
While passenger traffic was unchanged, Southwest’s average fare rose 4.9 percent, easing the effects of a 3.3 percent increase in jet fuel costs. In addition to sales, the company set records for net income, operating income and revenue from each seat flown a mile.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report. Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty