Federal study: ICT has 11th biggest airfare decrease since 2000

TOPEKA — Just as $5 million for the Kansas Affordable Airfares Program remains uncertain at the Statehouse, the city Wichita released a report today saying that Wichita Mid-Continent Airport boasted the country's 11th biggest airfare decrease since 2000.

The federal study by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics also says that ICT ranked 43rd in average fare among the 100 busiest airports.

The study showed that Wichita’s average airfare in the fourth quarter of last year was $345 compared with the nationwide average of $337. Wichita’s fares are lower than those out of Tulsa and Oklahoma City but still are higher than those out of Kansas City. In 2000, a news release from the city said, the fare difference between Wichita and Kansas City was $138; that difference is now $41.

As of earlier today, funding for the program aimed at keeping airfares low was still uncertain as the House’s version of the state’s budget did not include the $5 million recommended in Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget. The House appropriations and Senate ways and means conference committee meets again at 5 p.m. today to continue to hash out differences in spending.

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick and chair of ways and means, reiterated the importance of the Affordable Airfares program during a break on the Senate floor today.

“We still have a lot of issues on the table,” she said. “But this is about jobs and the economy. (Affordable Airfares) is one of the funding items that help keep us competitive in a global market. It keeps current businesses here, and it creates a very friendly business environment.”

Wichita and Sedgwick County leaders remain hopeful the program will find money from the state.

"The Affordable Airfares program has helped lower airline prices in Wichita," Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer said in a news release. "We look forward to a continuation of this highly successful program. It lowers fares and is an important investment that brings money back into the state coffers and benefits all Kansans with better airline service and improved economic benefits."