Southwest Airlines Co. plans to buy AirTran Airways. Southwest hasn't flown to Delta's Atlanta hub, but once it acquires AirTran, it will. So what will that mean for Delta? Atlanta is its biggest hub.
On its earnings conference call on Wednesday, Delta executives pointed out that domestic traffic originating in Atlanta _ the kind of traffic it competes with AirTran for _ is less than 10 percent of Delta passenger revenue.
Richard Anderson, Delta Air Lines Inc. chairman and CEO, sounded optimistic, saying Delta has grown in its Salt Lake City hub as Southwest has shrunk there:
"AirTran's down about 11 percent in Atlanta over the past 12 months. When you look at the cost structure, Southwest is a substantially higher-cost operator and when you ... look at the Delta network in Atlanta and the small amount of local traffic that we carry here, we're pretty confident that we'll do just fine competing against Southwest."
(This version corrects identity of speaker in 3rd graf and headlines.)