Analyst: Delta Not Leaving Wichita

An aviation analyst says Wichita shouldn't worry that a smaller, post-bankruptcy Delta Air Lines will stop serving the city.

Michael Boyd, whose aviation firm Boyd Group has advised the city of Wichita before, says there's little chance Delta would abandon Wichita.

"Wichita has absolutely no call to worry about air service," Boyd said.

And Wichita airport director Victor White said Delta has assured the city that it anticipates no near-term changes to service here.

Delta and the city have been in a bitter dispute over the city's subsidies to rival AirTran Airways, which flies the same Atlanta-Wichita route that Delta does.

Delta has eliminated its service between Wichita and minor hubs in Cincinnati and Salt Lake City, but it continues to make three daily flights to Atlanta from Wichita.

Boyd said that's because the Atlanta routes are the profitable ones. And profitable routes are exactly what Delta needs more of right now.

"Wichita gives Delta an enormous amount of traffic," Boyd said. Fliers into Delta's Atlanta hub feed into connecting flights going across the country and around the world.

Many analysts have speculated that Delta will try to beef up its international routes, which tend to be more profitable.

Boyd said Wichita fliers are often international fliers. International companies such as Bombardier Inc. and Onex Corp. have major divisions here, and all the major planemakers sell worldwide, making the city a source for international business fliers and a destination for them.

"The international trade to and through Wichita is enormous," Boyd said.

White, the airport director, says he's optimistic about Delta's plans for Wichita. But he also said that, when a company's in bankruptcy, you can't take anything for granted.

"It's a delicate situation, and what they tell us today may not be what happens tomorrow," he said.

Wichita Eagle

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