In the past two years, AirTran has managed a dramatic turnaround in their fortunes. In February of 1999, the airline was on the brink of shutting down, go as far as to laying off workers. Fortunately, the company was able to survive that month because there were not any problems that would have affected operations which would have led to a shutdown. Bringing Joe Leonard on as CEO was effectively the move that helped change the company. At the time of his arrivial, the airline was in shambles. Flights delayed even when other airlines were operating normally; a fleet of aircraft that were getting up in age; a large debt service due in 2 years; new aircraft scheduled to be delivered, but no way to pay for them; and a workforce organizing a unionization effort. After surviving a perilious month of February, things began to look up. The springtime brought increased loads, new service was launched, and plans for future growth began to take shape. By the end of 1999, the airline had managed to take delivery on the first of 50 717s on order, and had expanded capacity at their Atlanta hub. The year 2000 brought a lot of changes in the industry. Mergers and buyout offers were tendered throughout the industry, and even AirTran was inquiring about purchasing TWA. With more 717s in the fleet, the costs of fuel and for maintenence were beginning to come down, giving the company more money on their bottomline. The unionization attempt failed, and the company grew some more, including international flight to Freeport. As the fuel prices rose, the company began to hedge their fuel, helping save more money in addition to the fuel efficient fleet. As the economy began to swing downwards, many business passengers have had to reconsider their flight plans. No more business class on Delta or one of the majors say their bosses, so low-fare airlines like AirTran get their business. And add to this the labor troubles at many of the major airlines meant that some passengers decided to change airlines. AirTran is one of the few airlines in the last quarter to actually post a profit (nearly 2 years of profitable quarters for AirTran). Their fuel savings and their hedging are quite possibly the key to their profits. As for Southwest having a chink in their armor; there is one once Herb steps down.