Wichita Makes Deal with AirTran

Wichita Makes Deal with AirTran

In an effort to increase traffic to Mid-Continent Airport, the City of Wichita, Kan., is taking an unprecedented step.

The Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce will lead a $1 million private-sector fund raising effort that will pay for a limited-time program where business travelers can double frequent flyer credits by flying on AirTran.

By making it possible for businesses to earn double credits, the chamber hopes that businesses will become accustomed to flying AirTran and develop brand loyalty.

“They (AirTran) are very excited about the business frequent flyer program,” said Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce president Bryan Derreberry. “It’s all about, how do we ensure that these daily round-trip routes are profitable for AirTran.”

The city recently reached an agreement with the low-fare carrier to provide a third flight to Atlanta for the next year. In return, the city will guarantee AirTran $2.5 million in revenue guarantees to offset losses. Sedgwick County has promised another $1 million in subsidies.

“We’re thrilled that we get to maintain a low-cost carrier in our marketplace,” said Derreberry. “The ability to offer that low-cost carrier and competitive airfares is just a critical factor for our economic development efforts in the future.”

“I feel real, real good,” Wichita Mayor Carols Mayans told The Wichita Eagle after the meeting with AirTran officials in Atlanta. “This is very important to our community.”

The agreement contains an exit clause. If AirTran’s losses exceed the money allotted, the city can give AirTran 75 days’ notice and back out of the deal.

Comment: While we know it’s not the first time that a local community has thought to raise money to fund a local bonus promotion such as double miles or credits, we’re wondering if the Federal government who does provide subsidies for local air transportation efforts in areas such as this, would consider a formal program much like this one. We already know they are bailing out airlines through the front door, why not the back door as well?

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