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Southwest Purchase of AirTran Approved by Justice Department

The U.S. Justice Department approved Southwest Airlines Co.’s acquisition of AirTran Holdings Inc., saying it won’t substantially reduce competition.

The presence of low-cost carriers such as Southwest and AirTran “has been shown to lower fares on routes previously served only by incumbent legacy carriers,” the department said today in a statement on its antitrust review of the deal.

The company will be able to offer new routes that neither airline now serves, including connecting service through Atlanta from cities currently served by Southwest to cities now served by AirTran, the government said.

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