City Thanks Local Travel Agents for Filling Mid-Continent Airport Flights

Wichita Mid-Continent Airport officials held an appreciation event for the area's travel agents, recognizing them for helping the airport stay busy.

About 60 travel agents attended the event this month, the first of its kind for the airport, interim director of airports Tom Nolan said.

Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans, City Manager George Kolb and Nolan talked to the agents about the dynamics of the market, the project to build a new terminal and a new marketing plan for the airport. They also encouraged them to book flights out of Wichita rather than the Kansas City airport when making travel arrangements for clients.

A recent survey found many people still drive to Kansas City to catch flights, although the number has declined since AirTran Airways entered the Wichita market.

"Every booking really matters here at Wichita," Nolan said.

After the Federal Aviation Administration alleged the Wichita airport was discriminating against other airlines by continuing to subsidize AirTran Airways, the city sent a six-page rebuttal.

"We held fast that that is not the case," interim airport director Tom Nolan told Airport Advisory board members at a meeting last week.

The city is still waiting for the FAA to respond, Nolan told the board.

"I'm quite confident some resolve will come," Nolan said.

The issue with the FAA was all the buzz at the annual air service conference held recently in Calgary. "It's precedent-setting in the nation," Nolan said.

At the conference, Nolan and Airport Advisory member Tim Austin had discussions with four airlines. Two already serve Wichita; two do not. Nolan declined to name the airlines.

The meetings are not where deals are cut, but airport officials attended to create goodwill for the city, he said.

Their message was that Wichita is "alive and well," Nolan said. They talked about the airport and the Wichita economy.

At the conference, airport officials have 20 minutes to talk with representatives of an airline, then switch carriers.

"It's speed dating for airlines," Austin joked.

Raymond W. Clanton, the author of "Fire, Fear and Guts: The B-29 and Her Gallant Crewmen," will appear at a book signing at the Kansas Aviation Museum from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

The book includes stories by pilots, bombardiers, gunners and other crewmen who flew B-29 Superfortress bombers over Japan during World War II.

Raytheon Aircraft is taking its Hawker Horizon business jet on a summer tour of the United States and Canada.

The tour is to demonstrate the plane's capabilities to prospective customers and to those who already have the plane on order, the company said. The tour began Monday.

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies, which includes Virgin Atlantic Airways, is this year's recipient of the Wings Club distinguished achievement award.

The international aviation club recognizes significant aeronautical and aviation achievements.

Virgin Atlantic sponsored pilot Steve Fossett's record-setting round-the-world flight from Salina last March in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer.