Wichita, Kan. City Council OKs Airline Subsidy

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved a $2.5 million public subsidy for AirTran Airways despite complaints of economic discrimination from a rival airline and the Federal Aviation Administration.

He added that "the subsidy to AirTran has been a huge benefit to the business community," which in turn benefits the whole city. "We think the money spent by the city of Wichita is well spent," he said.

He also said WABA didn't have any problems with an independent airport authority before 1999, when the council took control.

And, he said, the organization would support re-establishing the authority if necessary to comply with FAA rules governing airport improvement grants.

"If that fixes the problem, they (city officials) ought to take a serious look at that," Galyon said. "It's a move that needs to be looked at carefully -- and quickly."

J.V. Lentell, chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition and vice chairman of Intrust Bank, said he hadn't had a chance to talk to other coalition members since the FAA issue surfaced on Sunday.

"I'm sure that the city is working this out," he said.

Like Galyon, he said his group thinks low-fare air service is critical to the economic health of the community.

"I can just tell you among the people I deal with, they're pretty unanimous we need to make a deal and keep the service," he said. "Everybody agrees how badly we need that discount carrier."

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