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Flyers pick Phoenix as AirTran’s newest city

AirTran yesterday announced that Phoenix has emerged as the winner of its “Where do you want to fly next?” online survey that allowed flyers to pick the airline’s next destination city. AirTran will launch round-trip service between Phoenix and Atlanta on February 15, 2007.

“We are excited to expand to Phoenix and bring our growing route network to the Southwestern United States,” said Kevin Healy, the airline’s vice president of planning, in a statement that goes on to praise Phoenix’s proximity to the Grand Canyon as a bonus for flyers. (I’ve found that Las Vegas is actually a cheaper and easier entry point for trips to the Grand Canyon, though.)

While the move is good news for travelers headed to the Southwestern U.S., I’m a little saddened to see that the winning city ended up being a destination that already has some low-cost competition spurred by the presence of discounter Southwest Airlines. In my opinion, it would have been better to see AirTran fly to a city like, say, Charleston, South Carolina—where AirTran’s presence might have had a more substantial effect in driving down fares from the legacy carriers that serve the airport.

In any event, AirTran says it will have three round-trip flights to Phoenix by early March.

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