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Archive for Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Southwest Kansans ponder KCI usage

City leaders consider study of flights

January 26, 2005

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— Southwest Kansas officials want to know if there's someplace else area residents would rather fly to than Kansas City, Mo., when connecting with flights to other parts of the country.

Officials in Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal are considering hiring a consultant to study airline use trends at their airports. Part of the goal is to determine whether travelers would fly more often if local airports offered flights to locations other than Kansas City International Airport, which offers limited connections.

Air Midwest currently provides air service between Garden City, Dodge City and Kansas City, while Great Lakes Aviation links Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal with Denver.

Denver serves as the western connector hub for flights to and from southwest Kansas, and Halloran said travelers in the area seemed satisfied with that option.

The prospect of replacing the Kansas City route has been discussed in southwest Kansas since at least 2003, partly because of higher travel flow to more southerly destinations.

"We're just trying to find out where the people are flying to," said Mike Klein, manager of the Dodge City airport.

If the cities agree to conduct a study, issues to be examined would be the top destinations of area travelers and the role fare levels play in whether they use local airports.

Another element would be a "leakage study" to determine how often people from the area went to cities such as Wichita, Amarillo, Texas, and Colorado Springs, Colo., to take flights.

Bob Halloran, city manager in Garden City, said besides identifying the local market, findings of a study could be helpful in deciding whether the Kansas City route should be shifted.

"We're all concerned about Kansas City's viability as a hub for us," he said.

Wichita, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Okla., and Dallas all have been mentioned as possible replacements.

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