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Southwest Airlines coming to RIC

The wait is over: Southwest Airlines is coming to Richmond International Airport.

Southwest and its subsidiary, AirTran Airways, announced today that existing AirTran operations at 22 domestic and international airports – including Richmond – will be converted to Southwest during the coming months. Southwest purchased AirTran in May 2011 and began evaluating the markets it served to determine which ones would convert to Southwest after the merger.

The announcement is good news for the Richmond region, which has sought Southwest's entry for years. The airline flies to a larger number of markets than AirTran or Richmond's other low-cost carrier, JetBlue. Its arrival is viewed as a major victory for the region, because it will help keep rates of other airlines lower while providing better access to and from the region nationwide.

"It remains critically important that our travelers and businesses continue to purchase and travel aboard all airlines that provide service from Richmond International Airport," RIC spokesman Troy Bell said in a statement, "notably including low-cost carriers like AirTran as it transitions to Southwest. Every ticket counts."

In addition to Richmond, the other airports at which AirTran service will be converted to Southwest service are: Flint, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y.; Pensacola, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Dayton, Oh.; Key West, Fla.; Washington, D.C. (Reagan); Memphis, Tenn.; Akron-Canton, Oh.; Wichita, Ks.; Des Moines, Ia.; Branson, Mo.; Portland, Me.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Aruba; San Juan, P.R.; Bermuda; and Nassau, Bahamas.

AirTran service and employees at these airports are planned to convert to Southwest gradually during the course of AirTran’s integration into Southwest. The airlines earlier
announced that AirTran will begin serving Mexico City, Mexico on May 24 and San Jose Cabo, Mexico on June 3. Those destinations also will convert to Southwest over time.

Of the 69 cities AirTran served when Southwest acquired it last year, 53 cities are planned to convert to full Southwest Airlines service.

“We are committed to continuing to serve these communities—at first via AirTran, and eventually as Southwest. We know there are Southwest Customers who want access to these cities, but have never before had the opportunity, and the markets have long desired
Southwest service,” said Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer and AirTran Airways President Bob Jordan. “We are excited about the cities we have chosen to keep in our combined network. At the same time, there are some markets that
we simply cannot make work in the current fuel environment, so we’ve had to make the decision to discontinue service in those locations.”

AirTran will cease operations at six airports Aug. 12: Allentown, Pa.; Lexington, Ky.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Sarasota, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; and White Plains, N.Y.

As of Aug. 12, Southwest will offer 41 flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the first jointly served airport to fully convert to Southwest Airlines service. AirTran currently serves the market with one daily flight from Seattle to Milwaukee and seasonal service to both Atlanta and Baltimore/Washington.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A new meaning for fried chicken

Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?

Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.

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Commonwealth Parenting will present “Terrific Twos and Thrilling Threes” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Children’s Museum of Richmond-Short Pump, 2200 Old Brick Rd. Topics include how to… Full text

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