FAA Fix for Witchita: Separate Board

The city of Wichita would probably have "no problem" subsidizing AirTran Airways if a separate airport authority were still running Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, a Federal Aviation Administration official said Monday. But it was unclear Monday...

"If it is not in conformance to (FAA) regulations, we'll have to find a different way to do that," Unruh said. He said he would favor re-establishing an Airport Authority "if that's all it takes."

"Hopefully, they're hard at work (at City Hall) today figuring out how to fix it by their meeting tomorrow," Unruh said Monday.

Delta Air Lines officials plan to ask the City Council today for a share of the subsidy. Doug Blissit, Delta's vice president for network analysis, and Harold Bevis, vice president for public affairs, will be in town for the meeting.

"The FAA has said that these subsidies are illegal, and we're just saying either eliminate the program completely or offer it to everyone, including AirTran," Delta spokeswoman Benet Wilson said.

Delta is seeking "a level playing field" for operators in Wichita, Wilson said.

Delta has subsidy agreements of its own in place. Two weeks ago, the airport authority in Lansing, Mich., approved $1 million in subsidies for Delta to begin two daily flights to Atlanta, according to the Lansing State Journal. The airport authority board also gave the airline $100,000 for marketing the new service.

AirTran vice president for planning Kevin Healy said he was aware of the subsidy issue in Wichita.

"I'm confident that we'll continue with our agreement with the city," Healy said.

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