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Subsidies key to keeping AirTran Airways in Wichita, CEO says

State and local subsidies that help cushion AirTran Airways against losses are what keep the carrier  flying in and out of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, AirTran’s CEO said this morning.

"We'd have a tough time getting the profitability," AirTran CEO and president Bob Fornaro said this morning when asked what would happen without the subsidies. "The subsidy is necessary."

Fornaro will be the keynote speaker at today's Wichita Aero Club luncheon.

The state provides AirTran with a $5 million per year revenue guarantee. The city and county each provide $1 million in guarantees.The state's money for air service must be approved each year, however.

Wichita's geography in the middle of the country hurts, because customers want to go north, south, east and west.

"That makes it hard to get the volumes," Fornaro said. "People who want to go to Denver don't want to go to Atlanta. It requires more service."