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AIRTRAN STARTS NEW SERVICE

AirTran Airlines is beginning its new service from Buffalo to Atlanta today, a development that already has sparked a major air-fare war with Delta and other major airlines serving the same Southern markets.

The low-fare carrier, which was formed by the merger of ValuJet and AirTran Airways, will offer two flights daily to Atlanta as well as a daily flight to Orlando, Fla., that have been offered since 1995.

AirTran will operate from Gate 9 at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.The development means all 15 gates at the new airport are occupied.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is planning a $10.9 million expansion plan to build more gate space.

AirTran, which is based in Orlando, Fla., serves 38 cities with a fleet of 44 jets -- 33 DC-9s and 11 Boeing 737s.

Other cities scheduled to be served include the Florida communities of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Walton Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach; New Orleans, La., and Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Also, Houston and Dallas; Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.; Mobile, Ala.; Savannah, Ga.; Richmond and Newport News, Va., and Bloomington, Ill.

Together, the cities to be served by AirTran make up the destinations of 20 percent of the Buffalo travel market, or almost 300,000 people last year.

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