What is so bad about a landing gear failure? In the 1990s Alaska Airlines had had atleast 2 nose gear collapses on landings I can rememeber and that is just with MD80s at Sea-Tac. And Alaska is a pretty safe airline to fly.
Air Tran is NOT JUST VALUJET. There was another company with which they merged to create the new Valujet. When they did this, they created problems for themselves. These are the same problems any airline(s) get when they merger or buy out another airline. They now have a much larger workforce with many posistions that overlap in areas where both airlines had operations. It can be an expensive and time consuming process to reorganize two airlines and streamline the operations to make it more profitable and more productive. That combined with orders for BRAND NEW aircraft is probably why Air Tran isn't making a lot of money. Think of this though. When Air Tran gets all of their 717s, they will have a VERY young fleet of aircraft which will increase safety on their flights because of the newer more advanced systems then the DC-9s and 737s they fly now.
What do you mean by "service is still a little bad.."? Is it bad compared to small, full fare carriers such as Singapore, Cathay Pacific, or Virgin Atlantic? Or is it bad compared to the CRAPTASTIC service that you get on ANY domestic US flight on ANY airline where you only pay $200 hundred bucks and expect to get waited on hand and foot during the whole flight with the f/a cattering to your every whim?
I say, give them 5 - 10 years then see how they are doing. Besides, I kinda like the paint scheme coming out on the 717s. It looks a lot better than the typical "great white whale" schemes that seem to be EVERYWHERE these days.
Regards from St Louis!