Airline to hold open house
SeaPort Airlines will hold a grand opening ceremony at 1 p.m. today at the Great Bend Municipal Airport terminal building. SeaPort Chief Executive Officer Rob McKinney and Wichita Mid-Continent Air Service Manager Valerie Wise will be present, and the public is invited.
The airline began daily flights to Wichita and Kansas City this week. It is the new Essential Air Service carrier for Great Bend, replacing Great Lakes Aviation.
SeaPort Airlines Chief Executive Officer Rob McKinney told the Great Bend City Council Monday night that the company is here to be active in the community as well as provide air service.
“We want people to come out and enjoy their local airport,” McKinney said. The carrier was recently awarded the two-year Essential Air Service contract to provide service at Great Bend by the United States Department of Transportation, replacing Great Lakes Aviation.
SeaPort started commercial air service this week from Great Bend to Wichita and Kansas City with 18 flights weekly. These connect Great Bend Municipal Airport to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and Kansas City International Airport
The new service will include two round trips each weekday between Great Bend and Wichita, and a single one-stop flight between Great Bend and Kansas City. A reduced schedule will be offered on weekends.
“We focus on rural communities like Great Bend,” McKinney said. SeaPort provides service to 23 destinations in nine states with 145 departures daily.
The Wichita flights will have an average ticket price of $41.30 and McKinney anticipates an annual passenger count of 2,000. The Kansas City flight, which goes via Salina, will have an average price of $62.40.
However, there will be fares as low as $39.
“We want to become a part of the fabric of the community,” he said. The company plans to sponsor local activities and get involved in local events.
“I don’t have to tell you how important air service is to economic development,” said Valerie Wise, Wichita Mid-Continent air service manager. “You have great things going on in Great Bend.”
Through Wichita, she said passengers will have access to five major airlines with 37 flights per week to airports all over the country. This includes 57 destinations.
Some on the council asked about how seamless baggage transfers would be between SeaPort and connecting flights. In many cases, there will be no problem, McKinney said, and the company is working on agreements with other carriers to make improvements to this.
SeaPort Airlines announced in May that it would begin service this Monday from Great Bend Municipal Airport to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and Kansas City International Airport.
Portland, Oregon-based SeaPort Airlines Inc. operates daily scheduled flights in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas.
In other SeaPort business, the council authorized Mayor Mike Allison to sign the lease agreement with SeaPort Airlines for usage of certain areas of the airport terminal and apron area. The lease price is $670 per month and the lease expires in July 2016.
In other business Monday night, the City Council:
• Heard an update from Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She highlighted the successes of the third-annual June Jaunt this past weekend.
• Heard a report from Heather Atheson of the Golden Belt Humane Society. She said the facility is seeing an increase in the number of animals being taken in, and she requested an increase of 5 percent per month in city funding for the society.
• Authorized Allied Oil & Gas Services LLC to hook onto the city sewer line at 167 North U.S. 281(outside the city limits) with the understanding that they consent to be annexed at the city’s option and to pay $14,478 to the city for the reimbursement of a portion of the cost of the construction of the sewer line.
The proposed use of the site is truck maintenance and dry cement blending.
This is the line that was installed to service Primus Sterilizer in 2002, said City Engineer Robert Winiecke.
• Approved a lease agreement with McDonald Tank & Equipment Co. Inc. for leasing additional space at the airport industrial area. The area of the lease is 5.1235 acres. City Attorney Bob Suelter said the rental payments will be $750 per month with the lease expiring June 2029.
The company, which has been around since 1944, already has two locations in the area. The new facility will allow for the hiring of five new employees.
• Approved abatements at 1308 Morphy, owned by Joseph Farris, and 2958 Quivira, owned by Darren Brewer, both for accumulation of refuse.
• Approved the annual list of business licenses.
• Heard a report from City Administrator Howard Partington on city departmental activities.
Following the meeting, the council heard request from outside agencies seeking funding from the city. This is among the first steps in the city’s 2015 budget planning schedule.