Monday, November 19, 2012
Southwest Airlines is coming to Wichita.
In May 2011, the airline purchased AirTran Airways and has been integrating their operations into Southwest.
That transition is nearly complete and beginning on June 2nd of next year, AirTran service in Wichita will be converted to Southwest.
"Attracting Southwest Airlines means a huge economic boost not only to Wichita but to the State of Kansas,” Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer said. “Southwest will make it easier for visitors to come to Kansas through Wichita, which means more dollars spent on rental cars, hotels, shopping, and dining. It means greater opportunity to attract conventions, improve tourism and recruit companies to our region.”
At Mid-Continent, three AirTran nonstop flights between Wichita and Atlanta will be substituted for two Southwest nonstops between Wichita and both Dallas-Love and Chicago-Midway.
In addition, there will be daily nonstop service between Wichita and Las Vegas.
In total, there will be five daily departures from Mid-Continent with direct and connecting service to another 70 Southwest Cities across the U.S.
The Dallas and Chicago routes will be served with the 143-seat, Boeing 737-700 aircraft, and the Las Vegas route will be served with the 137-seat, B737-300 aircraft.
Southwest first announced the flights on their blog here.
A news conference was held Monday morning at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, where the official announcement was made. Several state and local leaders attended, including Governor Sam Brownback, Senator Jerry Moran, Congressman Mike Pompeo, Mayor Brewer and County Commissioner Dave Unruh.
Wichita had been courting Southwest Airlines for decades but federal law prevented the airline from serving Wichita out of its home airport at Dallas Love Field until 1997 when flights to Kansas were permitted. Repeated efforts to attract Southwest continued until the airline purchased AirTran Airways.
A spokesperson for the company said they allow up to two checked pieces of luggage with a ticket and there are no assigned seats on flights.
In addition, Southwest is the largest operator of Boeing 737-700 aircraft in the world. The company's entire fleet consists of this type of aircraft, with the fuselage manufactured in Wichita.
Southwest Airlines is the nation’s largest domestic carrier, operating more than 3,400 flights a day.