AirTran grounds Sirius XM


New owner Southwest Airlines is making a change at AirTran Airways: No more satellite radio. The move comes as Southwest moves to integrate AirTran operations into its own and operate the entire fleet under the Southwest name.

Southwest Exec. VP and Chief Commercial Officer Bob Jordan, who is running AirTran as President through the transition, told employees that the decision to remove XM Satellite Radio service was part of an effort to offer a “consistent” product across the Southwest-AirTran operations. The decision to drop XM, which is part of Sirius XM, was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

AirTran had featured XM on its aircraft since 2004. Jordan said the decision to drop the amenity was “not one that was entered into lightly.” But removing the satellite radio equipment will reduce weight and save fuel costs. Southwest has, after all, built its business on being a low-cost carrier. The airline expects that all of its XM receivers will be gone by the end of February.

RBR-TVBR observation: The weight of a satellite radio antenna and receiver doesn’t add a lot of weight to a plane. But when you multiply that by thousands of aircraft flying millions of miles each year, the fuel cost does add up.So it’s not really surprising that Southwest decided to standardize on less weight, rather than more.