Southwest credited with boosting Wichita airport traffic

04/24/2014 5:59 PM

08/08/2014 10:23 AM

Traffic at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport was up 11 percent in March, just-released data from the airport shows, while average fares are down.

In addition, for the first three months of 2014, passenger traffic is up 10 percent, compared with the first three months of 2013.

“I think it shows the impact of Southwest (Airlines) in our market, because now we’re not compared to the previous year when Frontier was in the market,” said Valerie Wise, the airport’s air service and business development manager.

Frontier Airlines ceased service to Wichita in November 2012.

The increase in passengers can be attributed mostly to Southwest’s service, Wise said. It’s also partly due to United Airlines’ addition of daily nonstop service to Los Angeles from Wichita last May.

Southwest began service June 2 with five daily flights from Wichita to Dallas Love Field, Chicago Midway and Las Vegas.

The airline bought AirTran Airways in 2011 and has been transitioning AirTran routes to Southwest.

In March, 126,165 passengers flew in and out of Wichita, compared with 113,747 in March 2013.

For the first three months of 2014, the airport served 332,884 passengers, compared with 303,675 for the same time the previous year.

The average fare from Wichita in the fourth quarter of 2013, the latest data available, was $387.90. That’s down 4.2 percent from the same time a year ago, according to Department of Transportation figures, Wise said.

The figures include one-way and round-trip fares.

To compare, Wise said, referencing DOT data, Tulsa’s average fare for the fourth quarter was $424.14; Oklahoma City’s was $400.42; and Kansas City’s was $363.36.

That compares with the average domestic U.S. fare for the quarter of $381.05.

Out of the nation’s top 100 airports, Wichita ranks 50th in fares, Wise said.

March load factors in Wichita – how full airplanes are – totaled 77 percent, she said, on par with load factors a year ago.

Load factor figures are a bit skewed, however, Wise said. That’s because the numbers don’t take into account passengers already on a flight when it lands in Wichita and who continue on to the next destination.

For example, Wichita service to Las Vegas on Southwest originates in Dallas and stops in Wichita to add passengers.

Besides Southwest and United, other airlines serving Mid-Continent are Allegiant Air, American Airlines and Delta Airlines.

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