Slightly more area residents are using Wichita Eisenhower National Airport than in 2012, a consultant told the Wichita Airport Advisory Board on Monday.
Mike Lopez of Seabury APG Airline Planning told board members at its monthly meeting that the airport’s retention of Wichita passengers has increased to 80 percent in the group’s latest study of airline tickets purchased by residents in a 75-mile radius of Wichita between January 2014 and December 2014.
During that period, 72,299 tickets were purchased by people living in that area. That’s up 4 percent from the 76 percent retention rate noted in a 2012 study.
“Relative to what’s happening in other markets, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing,” Lopez said to advisory board members about the 20 percent of area airline consumers who are using another airport to fly from.
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Lopez noted that in 2001, the passenger retention rate in Wichita was 56 percent.
Lopez said the No. 1 airport those 20 percent are using to begin their airline travel is Kansas City International Airport. And the primary airline they are using once they get there is Southwest Airlines, which also operates daily flights at Eisenhower National.
He said fares are generally lower out of Kansas City – including on Southwest – and most airlines there have more daily flights than does Eisenhower National.
Seabury APG’s report said the top five destinations for those 20 percent of passengers are, in order: Denver; Orlando, Fla.; Las Vegas; Seattle and Atlanta.
Service to three of those cities was previously offered in Wichita by two low-cost carriers. AirTran, which was acquired by Southwest in 2011, offered flights from Wichita to Orlando and Atlanta until Southwest took over Wichita service in June 2013. Frontier Airlines ended its direct flights from Wichita to Denver in 2012.