Southwest Airlines chief says he would never say never to the idea of a merger

By Harry R. Weber, AP
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Southwest CEO on mergers: Never say never

ATLANTA — The chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines says the discount carrier would never rule out the idea of acquiring another carrier in order to grow.

But CEO Gary Kelly told a Wings Club gathering in New York on Thursday that it is important to Southwest to maintain its point-to-point business model and its ability to manage its fleet, which helps keep costs low.

Kelly said Southwest, based in Dallas, will be on the prowl for any opportunities that help it grow.

Earlier this year, Southwest made a bid to buy Frontier Airlines out of bankruptcy but withdrew when it could not get an agreement with union pilots over merging the Southwest and Frontier crews.

Frontier was bought instead by Republic Airways Holdings Inc.

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