Salina, Kan., Airport Should Benefit From Changes at Neighboring City

The availability of commercial flights between Kansas City and Salina is expected to be enhanced next month with the expiration of a federal grant that allows cheap flights to and from Manhattan.

Salina and Manhattan share air service from Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group, which does business as U.S. Airways Express. But cheap Manhattan fares, available for the past 16 months, have meant few seats are left for Salina travelers.

At a meeting Wednesday, Tim Rogers, executive director of the Salina Airport Authority, told his board that the number of Salina passengers could rebound with Manhattan's loss of the cheap fares.

Diane Stoddard, deputy Manhattan city manager and interim airport manager, said the grant that allows the cheap fares was received from the federal Department of Transportation. It is due to expire Feb. 28, but the money likely will run out sooner than that.

That grant has pushed the fare for a Manhattan-Kansas City flight to less than half the cost of a Salina-Kansas City flight -- $ 120 v. $ 302, according to fares found Wednesday by Janelle Snyder, co-owner of Action Travel, 116 S. Seventh.

"We can't get seats out of here sometimes because we have to share that flight with (Manhattan)," Snyder said.

Both Manhattan and Salina would prefer not to share Kansas City flights. That arrangement, however, is spelled out in a federal subsidy -- known as Essential Air Service -- that Mesa receives to serve both communities. That grant, too, expires Feb. 28, but Mesa and officials in both communities are seeking its continuation through the transportation department.

In its bid to win the Essential Air Service contract, Stoddard said, the Manhattan City Commission Monday endorsed a Mesa proposal to add flights while continuing the Salina-Manhattan sharing.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Salina Airport Authority:

--Approved the lease of an airport hangar to Flower Aviation, 2524 Hein, at an annual cost of $ 12,852.

--Revised the lease of land to the Kansas Army National Guard for a parking area at its trailer maintenance center to include 23.47 acres. Previously, the lease covered 20 acres. The cost remains the same -- $ 3,355 a month.

--Approved an easement to allow the moving of a sewer line at the Kansas Army National Guard Regional Training Site for Maintenance, 2750 Scanlan.


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