A team of local government and business leaders have reached an agreement with AirTran Airways to keep the discount carrier operating in Wichita for a fourth year.
The deal calls for AirTran to add a third daily flight from Mid-Continent airport to Atlanta on 117-passenger Boeing 717 jets.
"We had a very good meeting, very positive," said Mayor Carlos Mayans after the meeting Thursday from Atlanta. "This is very important to our community."
Under the terms of the agreement, the City of Wichita will provide AirTran with $2.5 million in revenue guarantees to help offset losses and the county will provide another $1 million, said Dave Wood, vice president for economic development at the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition.
The subsidy is not capped, but it contains an exit clause for the city. If losses exceed the money allocated, the city can give AirTran 75 days notice and back out of the deal, Wood said.
If AirTran does not lose money on the flights, the guarantee is not paid.
The deal must be approved by the city council and county commission.
AirTran's current contract, whose subsidy is funded solely by the city, expires May 7.
City and airport officials credit AirTran with lowering fares from Wichita, boosting passenger numbers and spurring economic development.
Mayans said if ridership increases enough, AirTranwould be willing to add additional flights and service to other cities from Wichita.
For more on this story, see tomorrow's Wichita Eagle.