Sunday, February 2, 2014
Who's who: AirTran
Today I'm starting a new series that will look at the airlines that serve LAX. The intent is to answer the question Who is that? which comes up occasionally, often from folks listening on scanners or LiveATC. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as some carriers use radio callsigns that do not match the name painted on the side of the plane, and some only operate on a seasonal basis at LAX. We'll start at Terminal One and work our way around the terminals before venturing over to the cargo ramps.
We start with one of the afore-mentioned carriers whose radio callsign differs from the company name: AirTran, whose "Citrus" callsign comes from the company's Florida origins. AirTran, which is in the process of being subsumed by Southwest, is the least prominent of the three carriers at LAX's Terminal One. LAX never had a large AirTran presence, and I think we're now down to just one flight a day. Southwest has taken over the AirTran destinations out of LAX: Atlanta, Baltimore, and Milwaukee.
It's been a long time since I've seen two AirTran airplanes on the ground here at once; this shot dates back to 2012. Besides B737-700s, AirTran also operates the B717 (originally known as the MD-95 before the Boeing takeover of McDonnell Douglas). When AirTran first appeared at LAX, they flew B717s from here to DFW. For a short time, Ryan flew A320s in AirTran colors between LAX and Atlanta. Once AirTran started receiving their B737-700s, the other types disappeared from the LAX scene. An interesting note: AirTran was the launch customer for the B717, and also took delivery of the very last one built. With the Southwest takeover, the B717s will be transferred to Delta, who just a few weeks ago retired their last DC-9s. I expect the AirTran presence here will disappear completely later this year.