United Airlines to end services at Topeka Airport

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Less than a year after initiating two daily flights from Topeka to its Chicago hub, United Airlines says it’s pulling out.

The last flight will depart Topeka Regional Airport September 2nd, less than nine months after the first flight departed.

“It’s very disappointing,” says Eric Johnson, President of the Topeka Airport Authority. “This is something I believe Topeka needs.

After just seven months of flying out of Topeka, United Airlines announced it’s pulling their service from Topeka.

“It was a lack of revenue that they needed to be profitable,” says Johnson of the decision.

But it’s not quite a surprise.

Topeka passengers filled 49% of all the available seats on the flights, compared to an average of 86% capacity on all of United’s Chicago-bound flights.

Obviously it’s too late to do anything with this particular service,” Johnson tells Kansas First News “but we definitely don’t want to make the same mistake twice. And we won’t do that.”

Doug Kissinger, Chamber and “Go Topeka” President and CEO says “…the Chamber and ‘Go Topeka’ worked for many years to help secure air service for our community.” He adds the decision is disappointing, “as there’s been an increase in travelers each month United operated out of Topeka Regional Airport.”

More than 16,000 people have used the twice daily regional flights to Chicago.

And even though it’s the end of service through United, there’s hope for the future.

“It may be something that in the future we can look at air service again,” says Johnson “but it may not be the right fit for us.”




**Previous story***

TOPEKA (KSNT) – United Airlines announced Wednesday it will end its service at Topeka Regional Airport on September 2, 2014. The two daily jet flights to Chicago O’Hare will continue until that date. United reported to the Airport that service failed to meet revenue and passenger forecasts.

United inaugurated service in Topeka on January 7th. Since then, more than 16,000 people have flown on the two daily regional jet flights to the United hub at Chicago O’Hare.

According to Topeka Regional Airport, Topeka passengers filled 49% of all the available seats on the flights, against an average of 86% of seats filled on all of United’s Chicago flights, causing the service to fall well below forecasts and targets. Only three routes in the United network at Chicago had a lower percentage of seats filled.

While the service did not meet performance targets, it was also challenged by some of the worst weather in decades.

“Despite the forecast demand for this air service, United was not able to maintain profitability on the route,” said Eric Johnson, President of the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority. “The first three months of service included a significant number of flight cancellations due to snowstorms in both Chicago and Topeka. Thunderstorms in May and June also caused a number of operational problems that we believe caused people to choose to fly through hubs other than Chicago.”

Johnson tells Kansas First News this is a very fresh decision and that before deciding if they will go with another carrier they have to figure out the why, how decision of United Airlines.

United will proactively contact Topeka customers booked on flights after September 2nd and will provide the option to receive a refund, a travel credit or to rebook their flights in and out of Kansas City. Customers can also contact United directly at (800) 864-8331 to change their travel plans.

Chamber/Go Topeka president and CEO Doug Kinsinger sent the following statement to Kansas First News regarding the United Airlines services at Topeka Regional Airport.

“The Chamber and GO Topeka worked for many years to help secure air service for our community.  We hoped the business community and citizens at large would see the United service to and from Chicago as a benefit and a way to reach destinations throughout the United States and internationally efficiently and economically.  The decision by United officials, while not unexpected, is disappointing as we have seen increased numbers of travelers each month they have operated from Topeka Regional Airport.”

“We want to thank those in the region who supported our effort, and who booked their trips out of Topeka Regional Airport,” Johnson said. “We are disappointed at the loss of this service, but we are pleased to have been able to work with United Airlines to offer commercial air service to the Topeka region.”

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