They have been flying out of Topeka for a little over a month now, United Airlines offers the first commercial flights from Topeka in years. Local leaders call the renewed service Topeka’s big chance to attract new businesses to town.
Nicolette Schleisman brings us up to date on how the flights are faring.
For a little more than a month now, these flights have been between 25% and 50% capacity. For Sunday’s afternoon flight, 24 people flew out to Chicago. The hardest challenge Topeka Regional Airport has encountered, is getting the word out.
“You know we brought it here, but the only way it stays here is if we use it,” said Eric Johnson, President of the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority.
The big return of flights out of Topeka, was met with thousands of flights across the country cancelled. All because of winter weather, making it a rough start for the Topeka Regional Airport.
“We are trending upwards, and that’s what we need. winter conditions, starting new service, January is not the greatest time of year to do that, this is when we had the opportunity to start, but the sales are increasing, they are improving as time goes on, and we’re seeing February bookings improve over January bookings,” said Johnson.
According to Johnson, one of the challenges to get these flights off the ground, is getting passengers to take off from Topeka, rather than an airport like Kansas City, or Manhattan.
“The return of air service is important, what it means to communities further on, is the economic development opportunities,” said Johnson.
Michael Levy is a first time flyer out of Topeka. He says the choice to fly out of Topeka Regional Airport.
“It’s much easier getting in and out of here, from Lawrence, where I live, it’s the same or shorter drive time, I literally parked 100 feet away from the door here, and parking is much cheaper here,” said Levy.
The ease of the airport in Topeka is why Levy says he will be back next time.
“The convenience, and that the prices are much more comparable, it’s just much faster to get in and out of here,” said Levy.
The flights run twice a day to Chicago. Johnson says even though you are flying to Chicago, does not mean that has to be your final destination.