New Jack City: Topeka Airline Angst—Use It Or Lose It

fly-me-joIn a KC Confidential story late last year, Hearne questioned the feasibility of new twice a day United Airlines service from Topeka to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

My being in the travel agency business, he asked my opinion at the time.

“Not realistic” was my immediate thought.

Like it or not, Topeka is just too close to KCI airport which provides approximately 20 flights daily to the Windy City. They’re spread between American, United and Southwest.

The small 50 seat jets flying in and out of Topeka were actually being operated for United by ExpressJet Airlines.

12916276So now that the Topeka service has been in place for about a month—how’s it doing?

According to Metropolitan Topeka Airport president Eric Johnson, the flights have been averaging only a 25% capacity.

In other words of the available 50 seats just over 12 have been sold. Pretty dismal if you ask me. 

Johnson said that to meet the minimum revenue guarantee that’s in place, United needs for the flights to exceed 69% of capacity.

Johnson also said that he’d spoken with a United official who indicated that the airline had confidence in the service.

“They’re not in a panic,” he said. “They see a positive trend.”

LoveFlight1_bgSo is February looking any better for United’s Topeka-Chicago service?

I pulled up the Tuesday and Wednesday’s seat maps Monday and found only 13 seats occupied on Tuesday morning with another 13 for that afternoon’s flight out of T-town.

Wednesday’s two return flights don’t appear to be faring any better.

The midday Chicago to Topeka flight showed 13 occupied seats while the evening flight indicated 14 people hopping to Topeka—leaving 36 seats wide open.

 

play-stationAt this point, I don’t see the silver lining for the much heralded Topeka jet service once the government subsidies run out.

My advice to Topekans:

Better wing it outta your town soon. Cuz if you don’t use it—you’ll lose it!

 

 

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5 Responses to New Jack City: Topeka Airline Angst—Use It Or Lose It

  1. hot harley says:

    duh…..Topeka to Chicago? another flop. Why not the little apple to the big
    apple? Where do these airline executives get their jobs from?

    • admin says:

      It was the movers and shakers in Topeka who dreamed this thing up and is paying the airline a guaranteed profit to fly the route.

      The airlines never would have done it if not solicited and paid.

      This one’s on Uncle Sam (Brownback)

  2. Paul says:

    Jack, are you aware of any instances when government-subsidized routes at other small airports have actually proven successful?

  3. Stephen says:

    “[Delta] launched the nonstop service [from Pittsburgh] to Charles de Gaulle Airport in June 2009, backed by $9 million in subsidies from the state of Pennsylvania and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Delta had the right to drop the flight when the subsidies expired in 2011. Instead, it decided to continue the service on a seasonal basis, with the flights suspended during the winter months.”

    Delta has been pleased with capacity since, and for 2014, they are expanding service to 6 days a week. Pittsburgh spent years trying to restore a Europe route, and that subsidy jumpstarted something that still benefits the region years later.

  4. jack p. says:

    Let’s not compare Pittsburgh to Topeka….P-LEASE….

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