ATLANTA (AP) — Southwest Airlines is cutting about 300 employees from AirTran Airways' workforce at Atlanta's airport.
Southwest bought AirTran in 2011 and started its own Atlanta flights last year.
The 300 ground workers — baggage handlers, ticket counter and gate agents — would end up with jobs in other cities where Southwest operates if they are willing relocate, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. If not, they will get severance packages and leave the company.
The cuts come as Southwest prepares to deemphasize connecting flights in AirTran's operation at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in November by smoothing out the flight schedule and catering more to fliers coming and going from the Atlanta market.
Southwest says Atlanta will be a "focus city" instead of a connecting hub as it has been for AirTran.
Atlanta was the center of AirTran's world, but it plays a smaller role within the much larger Southwest.
About give years ago, Orlando-based AirTran had as many as 6,000 employees based in Atlanta and around 260 flights from Hartsfield-Jackson. The bulk of its pilots and flight attendants were based in the Atlanta area
By 2010, when the Southwest deal was announced, AirTran had shrunk to about 5,300 employees and around 220 Atlanta flights.
Southwest has discontinued more than a dozen of AirTran's nonstop routes from Atlanta, including to Dallas; Washington Dulles; Atlantic City; Wichita; Branson, Mo.; Portland, Me. and Bermuda, though it has also added a few. Southwest and AirTran combined now fly to about 46 cities nonstop from Atlanta.
By November, Southwest will have close to 4,800 employees in Atlanta and 170 daily flights, according to the company.
Last year, Southwest announced it is closing AirTran call centers in Savannah and Carrollton and consolidating about 200 of those jobs in its Atlanta call center. Southwest also plans to open a pilot base and flight attendant base in Atlanta.
"I think the AirTran footprint has shrunk about 25 percent since we initially acquired them," said Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly.
Southwest is gradually converting AirTran flights over to Southwest. The two airlines' combined schedule of about 175 daily flights from Atlanta will remain roughly the same with the transition from AirTran hub to Southwest "focus city." However, flight times will change to attract more travelers flying to and from Atlanta instead of to accommodate connections.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.