AirTran Airways and XM Satellite Radio Launch New Inflight Service With Rocket Man Elton John

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — AirTran Airways (NYSE:AAI) , a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc., and XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) , yesterday celebrated the official roll out of AirTran Airways’ new complimentary XM Satellite Radio service on its flights at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nev. To mark this new age of in-flight entertainment for commercial aviation, music legend Elton John was on hand to unveil a commemorative aircraft livery that will adorn a select number of AirTran Airways’ planes.

Upon seeing the one-of-a-kind design featuring his image, Elton John commented, “This plane looks fantastic.”

More than 20 of AirTran Airways’ Boeing 717s will feature a livery (wrap) showcasing a colorful rendering of Elton John sporting a smile and, as always, a pair of fashionable glasses. Elton John’s 717-sized portrait is comparable in dimensions to the head of the Statue of Liberty.

“AirTran Airways wanted to introduce XM Satellite Radio, a world-class audio entertainment service, by teaming up with a world-class musician. Our passengers can now listen to Elton John and thousands of other musicians during their flight, thanks to AirTran Airways and XM Satellite Radio’s innovative programming,” said AirTran Airways president and chief operating officer Robert L. Fornaro.

The rare livery alteration is part of AirTran Airways’ musical celebration of the company’s status as the first airline in the world to offer satellite radio. AirTran Airways’ XM service provides more than 100 channels of digital-quality, commercial-free music, news, sports, talk and entertainment to passengers, who may either bring their personal headsets or purchase headsets from the airline for a nominal charge.

“The partnership between XM and AirTran Airways will take in-flight entertainment to new heights,” said XM Satellite Radio President and CEO Hugh Panero. “In the coming months, AirTran Airways passengers will be joining the millions of XM subscribers who already enjoy the commercial-free music and cutting-edge comedy, plus news, talk, sports and entertainment programming that has made XM America’s number one satellite radio service.”

AirTran Airways currently has three planes with XM Satellite Radio service and plans to have XM installed on 20 planes by the end of February. Installation on the remainder of AirTran Airways’ fleet will continue through summer 2005.

“AirTran Airways prides itself on its association with great names; none more impressive than one of the world’s greatest musicians and the nation’s top satellite radio provider. Our partnership with XM Satellite Radio gives us a competitive edge when it comes to in-flight entertainment technologies,” remarked Fornaro. “To be the first airline offering satellite radio shows our dedication to providing a world-class in-flight experience for our passengers, and our vision as a growing low-cost provider.”

The livery unveiling took place on opening night of Elton John’s “Red Piano” musical extravaganza, which will run at Caesars’ Coliseum throughout February. As part of the ceremony, Fornaro presented Elton John with a $50,000 check on behalf of AirTran Airways for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

About AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways, one of America’s largest low-fare airlines with 6,000 friendly, professional Crew Members, operates over 500 daily flights to more than 40 destinations. The airline’s hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where it is the second largest carrier. AirTran Airways recently added the fuel-efficient Boeing 737-700 aircraft to create America’s youngest all-Boeing fleet. The airline is the first carrier to install XM Satellite Radio on a commercial aircraft. For reservations or more information, visit (America Online Keyword: AirTran).

About XM Satellite Radio

XM is America’s number one satellite radio service with more than 3.2 million subscribers. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, DC, New York City and Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame, XM’s 2005 lineup includes more than 130 digital channels of choice from coast to coast: 68 one-hundred-percent commercial-free music channels, featuring hip hop to opera, classical to country, bluegrass to blues; more than 40 channels of premier sports, talk, comedy, children’s and entertainment programming; and 21 channels of the most advanced traffic and weather information for major metropolitan areas nationwide. XM was named Best Radio Service at the 2004 Billboard Digital Entertainment Awards. Popular Science recently chose XM products for two prestigious “Best of What’s New 2004″ Awards. As the Official Satellite Radio Network for Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Exclusive Satellite Radio Service for NASCAR, as well as the Official Satellite Radio Service for ACC, PAC-10 and Big-10 collegiate football and basketball, XM Satellite Radio is the industry leader in sports radio programming, offering thousands of live sporting events each year. Consumers can experience XM over the Internet through XM Radio Online at For more information about XM hardware, programming and partnerships, please visit

Related Articles