ATLANTA (AP) — The arrival of Southwest Airlines at Atlanta's airport last winter was greeted with balloons and fanfare amid predictions that the low-cost airline's presence would lead to lower prices.
Atlanta travelers haven't seen the drops in fares that the Dallas-based carrier brought to other cities -- and some fares are up, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/12lq86K ).
A year after the airline's arrival, Southwest planes carry about 2 percent of passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Southwest bought AirTran Airways in 2011 to gain a foothold in Atlanta, then launched its own service here last February. Southwest always said it planned to slowly meld the operations over two or three years.
But frequent AirTran travelers say they expected more visible evidence of a new owner that is the nation's largest low-cost carrier.
"I've actually been shocked that I haven't seen Southwest be more aggressive in the Atlanta market, because I thought we would see huge changes," said frequent flier Ed Cordell, who lives in Norcross.
AirTran was already posing price competition for Atlanta-based giant Delta Air Lines, so industry experts didn't expect Southwest's entrance to lower fares in Atlanta as much as it has in other cities where it was trying to capture new market share.
Fare trends nationwide are largely driven by fuel and other cost issues, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said.
"All of the systemic fare increases that we've taken have been very deliberately decided and strategically made and I think are a reflection of the higher operating costs in all the markets that we're serving," he said.
Fares from Atlanta are down overall on some routes its own planes started flying in the past year, such as Austin, Denver and Houston, while prices are up on flights to Los Angeles and roughly the same to Chicago and Phoenix, Southwest said.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com