If you don't use it, you'll lose it. That's what AirTran officials say is the reason it will no longer fly to the windy city. Today is the first day AirTran will not offer flights from Wichita to Chicago.
AirTran arrived in Wichita in February last year. So far the city has paid the airline $3 Million in subsidies to keep the discount airline here. It arrived with great expectations and fares to Atlanta and Chicago for less then $200. Exactly a year later, the end of Chicago flights means a great disappointment.
WSU Aviation Expert Dean Headley says for an airline to make a profit, 75% to 85% of a flight must be filled. That is AirTran's main reason for canceling the Chicago route. The route did do one thing by keeping fares low. Last February Delta and American Airlines charged nearly $1,200 for an advance ticket to Chicago.
After AirTran arrived, the airlines dropped the price to less thatn $200. Just two weeks ago you could get a ticket to Chicago for less than $100. Now the day after AirTran's last flight to the windy city, Delta and American have more than tripled the cost to over $300. Now city officials are scrambling to keep other discount airlines here.
There is some hope because United is now the main carrier to Chicago and with its current economic problems, it plans to keep prices low and Headley believes it will help keep prices competitive.