Southwest Airlines’ disappointing decision to drop nonstop service to Dallas and Chicago from Wichita Eisenhower National Airport as of April 11 came with some good news – plans to add direct flights to St. Louis and Phoenix. The move confirmed that although ICT passenger numbers are up nearly 3 percent this year, Southwest hasn’t claimed enough of those fliers to justify continuing the money-losing Dallas and Chicago routes. The question is whether the move just postpones the worst-case scenario – a Southwest pullout from Wichita after the long-running state and local subsidy program expires next June. As elected officials and business leaders mobilize to do whatever they can to keep Southwest at ICT long term, more area travelers should make it a priority to use the low-fare carrier. Meanwhile, frequent fliers to Chicago and especially Dallas should hold on to their wallets. Whenever a low-fare airline disappears or cuts destinations (Vanguard, AirTran, Frontier), the prices spike on those routes in and out of ICT. – Rhonda Holman
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