Wichita airport sees air traffic returning, but slowly

KNSS News
June 24, 2020 - 11:38 am
Wichita, Eisenhower National Airport

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, passengers at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport are starting to fly again. In May, nearly 11,000 passengers flew out of Wichita, a decrease of 87% from last May, but a 193% improvement over April. 

April’s enplanements were just 3,738. Nationwide passenger volume, according to the TSA, was down 90% in May. 

In Wichita, total passengers in May were 21,798 compared to 85,022 in 2019. For the year, passenger traffic is down 48%.

Social distancing policies on Southwest, Delta, and Alaska, are limiting passenger loads temporarily. Alaska is capping loads to 65% through the end of July. Delta is reducing capacity to 50% in first class, and 60% in the main cabin. Southwest is limiting capacity to 90 passengers on a 143-seat aircraft. In May, the average load factor at Wichita was 34%.

Compared to May 2019, scheduled capacity was down 56% in flights and 58% in seats. Smaller aircraft, fewer flights and suspension of some service are the main reasons for the reduction.

  • American operated all regional jets to Dallas
  • Delta suspended service to Minneapolis
  • Delta operated one daily flight to Atlanta instead of 3
  • Frontier reduced service to Denver to 1 weekly flight
  • United operated all regional jets to Denver
  • United reduced flights to Houston and Chicago
  • Southwest suspended service to Phoenix and Las Vegas

The reopening of attractions has prompted the increase in passenger traffic and airlines are responding. Allegiant began nonstop service to Destin and Orlando-Sanford in May. In July, American will double its flights to Chicago. Delta will reinstate nonstop service to Minneapolis with one daily flight. Frontier will operate nine flights to Denver instead of five. Southwest will reinstate nonstop service to Phoenix. Overall, capacity will increase 23%. 

Capacity in August is expected to increase with American returning its A-319 aircraft to DFW. Delta will operate two daily flights each to Atlanta and Minneapolis. United will operate narrow-body and regional jet aircraft to Denver. Southwest will reinstate nonstop service to Las Vegas.

Last year, there were more than 400 charter flights in May at Eisenhower Airport; this year, there were zero. Other airlines flying through Wichita saw their May numbers plummet from a year ago: Delta (-96%), Frontier (-93%), Southwest (-92%), United (-86%), American (-80%), Allegiant (-78%), and Alaska (-71%). 

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