Winglets are optional equipment. But they can be added on later, if desired.
Recently at Boeing we saw two WN 737's being built, one had winglets the other didn't. When we asked about this this is what we were told.
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
To my knowledge, those aircraft being purchased directly by AirTran will not have winglets; aircraft purchased by (I believe) GECAS and leased by AirTran will have winglets. Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Also, for future reference, the search tool is quite a helpful feature.
I know winglets are an option. I am asking why AirTran decided not have them installed on their planes. Southwest has decided to retrofit all their old 737-700s and all new planes will have them installed.
I seem to recall that AirTran had a specific reason for not having them installed, but I cannot remember what the reason.
So we have two answers:
1. Cost reasons
2. They won't fit at ATL
I don't believe it is a cost issue due to the fact that southwest is getting them and Aviation Partners Boeing says they practically pay for themselves.
As for not fitting in ATL, now that AirTran is the number 2 airline in Atlanta, don't you think they could work something out to get more terminal space or more gates at a different terminal to make 717s fit next to the 737s.
I just think it was that they looked at the airport that would be serving these new a/c and found that there wasn't any gate space.... I would be nice to see a NG737 in those colors with winglets. Then again now that they are being used so much any 737 w/o winglets looks crappy!