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Southwest purchase of AirTran in new phase

Southwest Airlines, the major carrier operating out of Islip's MacArthur Airport, has moved into the second stage of antitrust scrutiny as it seeks to buy low-cost travel rival AirTran.

The U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division must approve the buy.
Southwest and AirTran each got a Justice Department request for information this week, the companies said.

"While a definitive closing date cannot yet be determined, Southwest and AirTran maintain their expectation that the transaction will close in the first half of 2011," Dallas-based Southwest said in a news release.

No immediate schedule changes at Islip were announced, and it's not clear what the purchase  could mean for Long Island.

AirTran's range of U.S. destinations include some Southwest doesn't yet have, such as Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and dozens of smaller U.S. cities such as San Juan, Puerto Rico; Wichita, Kan., Biloxi, Miss., and Williamsburg, Va. It also would extend Southwest’s reach to Mexico and the Caribbean.

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