Wichita-area businesses have pledged nearly $500,000 to fund an initiative to enhance AirTran Airways frequent flier program.
The goal is to develop brand loyalty and boost business ridership on AirTran flights from Wichita, organizers say.
Fundraising began two weeks ago. So far, 24 companies have made pledges, said Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive Bryan Derreberry. More businesses are expected to make pledges.
Organizers want to raise $1 million by mid-June.
Affordable airfare is crucial to area businesses, Derreberry said. If AirTran pulls out of Wichita, fares will significantly increase, he said.
"This is an important economic development and community development issue," Derreberry said.
The city of Wichita and Sedgwick County have approved $3.5 million in revenue guarantees to AirTran to help underwrite any losses the airline might have providing a fourth year of service in Wichita. AirTran's new contract with the city began May 8.
Despite last year's subsidies from the city, AirTran lost money serving Wichita, chamber officials said.
The campaign to increase travel on the carrier will let business travelers accrue extra credits in AirTran's frequent flier program during designated periods of the year. The program will help them earn free flights faster.
Organizers have been holding meetings for business leaders to learn more about the program. More meetings are scheduled for May 25 from 4 to 5 p.m. and on May 26 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the chamber offices at 350 W. Douglas.
Under the program, businesses that sign up for AirTran's frequent-flier program will earn free flights at twice the pace on travel taken in October, November, January or February.
Under the program, business travelers who sign up for the AirTran frequent flier program -- called A2B Corporate Travel -- will earn free flights at twice the pace on trips taken from June 7 to the...
Low-cost carrier AirTran Airways plans to add a third daily flight to Atlanta from Wichita beginning June 7.
Witchita business and city leaders say travelers have saved about $85 million because of AirTran's entry into the market in 2002.