Phoenix-area airports woo AirTran

The Orlando-based low-cost carrier will meet with airport officials to talk about adding a route to Arizona.

Published September 17, 2006

PHOENIX - Phoenix-area airport officials will meet with AirTran Airways in Florida about starting service out of either Sky Harbor International Airport here or Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa.

Orlando-based AirTran is a fast-growing, low-cost carrier that operates nationwide, although its network of destinations is predominantly on the East Coast.

Phoenix is the largest metropolitan market not served by the airline.

The proposed route would be to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, AirTran's hub airport.

Phoenix officials said Friday that they had no way of knowing whether the airline would have a preference between Sky Harbor and Williams Gateway. Ultimately, it would be up to the carrier to decide if and where to locate.

Vision Airlines is the Mesa airport's only passenger carrier, operating a flight to North Las Vegas Airport four times a week.

AirTran officials said they typically add two to three destinations a year to their network of routes. This year, they have added White Plains, N.Y., and Seattle.

Tad Hutcheson, an AirTran spokesman, said the airline would make a determination about Phoenix as a possible destination only after considering a variety of factors, including availability of planes, cost of fuel and the potential for competition from other carriers.