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AirTran to leave Toledo Express

AirTran Airways plans to end service at Toledo Express Airport next month, employees were told today. The airline's last day of flights locally is April 28.

The move comes a week after the airline, which started flying again out of Toledo in late 2000, missed its goal under a ticket-selling plan to increase business. The "travel bank" drive ended with slightly more than $500,000 committed to AirTran ticket purchases. (Read tomorrow's Blade for more details on the announcement.)

AirTran began the Toledo-Atlanta service in October, 2000. Its discount fares have been credited with leading Toledo Express Airport to an 18.5 percent increase in passengers last year.

Toledo officials fear that an AirTran withdrawal from the local market will bring an end to the fare competition that has aided Toledo Express's revival.

AirTran now serves 37 cities, with Wichita, Kan., scheduled to become the 38th on May 8. It replaced Fort Walton Beach, Fla., with neighboring Pensacola last year after Pensacola wooed the airline with $2 million in travel-bank pledges.

(Full details in tomorrow's Blade.)

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