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Garden City Airport Gets Go Ahead On Dallas Flights

KSCB News - November 15, 2011 8:32 am

Federal authorities have chosen American Eagle to provide commercial air service between Garden City Regional Airport and Dallas, a service that is likely to begin next spring.

Garden City officials received notice of the news from the U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday, which has selected the airline to service the municipal airport with 14 round-trip flights per week to and from the Texas metropolis on a 44-seater jet, a decision local officials were hoping for.

The same DOT order selects Great Lakes Airlines as the Essential Air Service, or EAS, provider for Dodge City, Liberal, Hays and Great Bend, with continued flights to Denver.

Once American Eagle begins providing service at the local municipal airport, it will replace Great Lakes’ 19-seat turboprop aircraft service to and from Denver.

Garden City officials have said it is their hope that when the turnkey transition occurs — possibly in early April — the move will boost passenger traffic significantly at the airport located about 11 miles southeast of town on U.S. Highway 50.

American Eagle’s bid to federal authorities to provide the twice-daily round-trip flights comes at a federal subsidy cost to the DOT of nearly $2.92 million, the most expensive of four proposals made to Garden City under the EAS program earlier this summer. The EAS program makes commercial air service at small or rural airports like the ones in western Kansas possible.

To bolster their case for the DOT to choose American Eagle, the city successfully vied for a $250,000 award from The Regional Economic Area Partnership of South Central Kansas, which administers funds from the Kansas Affordable Airfares Program, or KAAP, marking the first time the funds have been offered outside Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport.

Garden City officials also looked to their neighbor 50 miles to the east — Dodge City — to help bring down the cost of subsidizing the service to the DOT.

In a compromise reached between city officials back in August, Dodge City agreed to bump the Dodge City Regional Airport’s service of four daily Denver flights down to three, if the DOT desired to use the remaining federal EAS subsidy savings toward Garden City’s American Eagle subsidy requirement, amounting to about half a million dollars.


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