AirTran to keep, expand operations in Orlando
AirTran Holdings Inc., parent of Orlando-based AirTran Airways, said Wednesday it will keep its headquarters in Orlando, opting to build a permanent, hurricane-hardened Systems Operations Control center at Orlando International Airport rather than moving to another state.
AirTran, which has been headquartered in Orlando since starting in 1998, had been considering a move ever since its main control center suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Charlie in 2004.
“Orlando will remain our nerve center for our fast-growing network as well as our headquarters city,” said Robert. L. Fornaro, AirTran Airways president and chief executive officer. “We are proud to call Orlando home. Orlando is a great city with a business-friendly climate, growing business and leisure passenger base and livability. It’s a place skilled crewmembers want to come to work and raise their families — and we’d like to thank Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Enterprise Florida, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, the City of Orlando, the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority for forming a partnership that will benefit AirTran Airways and, we believe, Central Florida for many, many years.'
The decision was good news for the governor's office, which has been working with the company to convince it to remain in Florida.
'This is great news for our state since the aviation industry and headquarters operations are critical to our plans for economic growth,' Crist said.
AirTran said it expects to add 121 jobs in Orlando, expanding its operations from the current workforce of about 300.
AirTran, a low-cost air carrier catering to business travelers, also said Wednesday it had a record year in 2007. Traffic increased 25 percent after a 19.4 percent increase in capacity, with the number of enplaned passengers increasing 18.6 percent to 23.8 million. Its load factor increased 3.4 percentage points to 76.2 percent.