AirTran to leave HIA in August

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. today said it will cease operating AirTran Airways at Harrisburg International Airport in August as part of the ongoing consolidation of services due to their 2011 merger.

HIA in Lower Swatara Township, Dauphin County, was one of six airports dropped from AirTran‘s post-merger operations. Southwest also will cease operations in the following airports on Aug. 12:

  • Allentown, Pa.
  • Huntsville, Ala.
  • Lexington, Ky.
  • Sarasota, Fla.
  • White Plains, N.Y.

“It’s disappointing, but we’re not shocked by it,” HIA spokesman Scott Miller said.

Airport officials made the case to Southwest that the population and passengers existed to support continued service from HIA, but the airline has chosen to move toward bigger cities, he said. Considering Southwest’s size, it was always a 50-50 chance they could pull out of HIA, he said.

HIA has enough advanced notice of the closing to begin looking for other airlines to replace AirTran’s service, Miller said.

AirTran operated two daily non-stop flights to Orlando, Fla., and had about 15 employees at HIA, Miller said. AirTran had 101,661 passengers departing and arriving at HIA in 2011, which made it the fourth-largest airline operating at the airport, according to HIA statistics. AirTran first started flights from HIA in 2008.

AirTran and Southwest completed their merger in May, a move some experts said could be good for travelers.

Editor’s note: This item has been edited to correct the number of daily non-stop flights to Orlando and the passenger count for 2011.

Jim T. Ryan

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