Southwest: Layoffs are not part of merger

A Southwest Airlines executive has told the Dallas Business Journal that layoffs are not part of the plan for the Dallas-based carrier’s merger with AirTran Airways.

That’s according to Bob Jordan, the Southwest executive charged with leading AirTran during the merger, said the combined company does not intend to lay off any employees.

Southwest is working through the process of merging the two companies by mid-2014. The combined company has about 43,000 employees — 35,000 from Southwest and 8,000 from AirTran.

“There’s no target head count,” Jordan told the Journal.

“The target is to effectively bring the two companies together, in a way that we’re all proud of, and I mean that in a number of ways — proud for what it means for our shareholders, but also proud of how we’ve treated our employees on both sides,” he said. “There’s no target to eliminate staff, which is one of the first things you typically see in an airline merger is who gets laid off.”

Southwest has told AirTran employees that they will have an opportunity at Southwest, although some of the headquarters jobs may require relocation to Dallas, Jordan told the Journal.

The Dallas Morning News reported in May that Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said at the company’s annual meeting that it was premature for details about the two airline’s network integration, but “we don’t see anything that has go to,” referring to cities served by AirTran.

Kelly then estimated $400 million in net revenue synergies when AirTran is fully integrated with Southwest. The two airlines will operate separately until next year.

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