Southwest Airlines announced Monday that it has reached a definitive agreement to buy AirTran Airways in a $1.4 billion deal that will create "significant opportunities" in Atlanta, the largest U.S. market not currently served by Southwest. Thanks to AirTran's routes to Mexico and the Caribbean, the deal also would jump-start Southwest's stalled efforts to expand internationally. "This acquisition creates more jobs and career opportunities for our combined employee groups, as a whole. It allows us to better respond to the economic and competitive challenges of our industry, and fits perfectly within our strategy for our fifth decade of service," Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in announcing the deal.
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