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Southwest executive touts airline’s services at corporate travel forum in Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at 5:30 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, August 23, 2013, at 4:55 p.m.

Southwest Airlines corporate relations manager Gary Leonard was in Wichita on Wednesday afternoon speaking to representatives from the area’s corporate travel departments.

In a forum, Leonard introduced the group to Southwest, its brand, culture and products and services.

Business customers are essential, Leonard said.

“I think it’s key for sustained growth in any market,” he said. “We definitely need the support.”

Southwest Airlines is set to begin service in Wichita on June 2.

Southwest acquired AirTran Airways in 2011 and has been assimilating AirTran routes into its system.

Southwest will begin service in Wichita with two daily flights to Chicago and to Dallas and one daily flight to Las Vegas.

AirTran’s existing daily flights to Atlanta from Wichita will cease.

About 30 people attended the forum, held at the Doubletree by Hilton Wichita Airport hotel.

Leonard explained the company’s Business Select program, which gives passengers priority boarding, faster check-in and double reward points.

The company also offers an early-bird check-in program.

Valerie Wise, Wichita Airport Authority air service and business development manager, said she was pleased with the turnout.

“We had a good response from companies throughout the city,” Wise said.

Southwest will serve the Wichita market with Boeing 737 jets.

Its Dallas and Chicago routes will be served with the 143-seat Boeing 737-700. The Las Vegas route will be served with the 137-seat Boeing 737-300.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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