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Dick DeVos: Key to bringing Southwest Airlines to Grand Rapids is supporting AirTran | News

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Dick DeVos: Key to bringing Southwest Airlines to Grand Rapids is supporting AirTran
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The key to bringing Southwest Airlines to Gerald R. Ford International Airport is supporting the airline its merging with, says local business leader Dick DeVos.

DeVos was a speaker at Thursday's annual dinner for the Association for Corporate Growth Western Michigan.

The dinner's keynote speaker was Robert Fornaro, chief executive officer of AirTran Airways.  Fornaro spoke about his company's growth and why it chose to begin flights to Grand Rapids earlier this year.

AirTran is in the middle of a merger with Southwest, the nation's largest discount airline.  Fornaro will not speak about what will happen to AirTran's Grand Rapids service after the merger.

"Until our deal with is approved with Southwest, we're not allowed to have any discussions on future plans," says Fornaro.

But DeVos is optimistic about Southwest staying in Grand Rapids after its takeover of AirTran is complete.

"I think the possibility is very strong that if we demonstrate to AirTran that this was a great investment of their time and their resources to come to Gerald Ford Airport and support West Michigan, if we support them and demonstrate that it was a great decision, that message is going to resonate across AirTran and right straight into Southwest's offices," DeVos says.

DeVos was one of the founders of the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan, made up of local business leaders who are seeking to add more and less-expensive air services through Ford International Airport.

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