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New flights working well in Liberal PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 March 2018 12:42

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ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of stories recapping the recent joint meeting of the Seward County Commission, the Liberal City Commission, USD 480 Board of Education and the Seward County Community College Board of Trustees.

Today’s story will be an update on the state of Liberal’s airport. A final story will provide an update on the SCCC Champions Center.

SkyWest arrived in Liberal as the community’s newest air carrier in February following the departure of PenAir in September 2017.

That left Liberal with no flight service for the better part of five months, but Airport Manager Debbie Giskie said at February’s joint meeting of the Seward County Commission, Liberal City Commission, USD 480 Board of Education and Seward County Community College Board of Trustees that the city’s newest  air service company was up and running smoothly.

“We were without air service starting Sept. 10 until Feb. 6,” she said. “During that time, we looked for a new carrier. We selected SkyWest, who is now offering United Express, a 50-passenger regional jet that has two flights a day Monday through Friday, one flight on each weekend day.”

Passengers on United Express have not only a great number of seats, but a full-size cabin and seamless travel process from the minute they check in.

“The first flight leaves Liberal at 5:45 in the morning,” Giskie said. “It’s a one-stop that stops in Pueblo before it goes to Denver. The afternoon flight lands here at 4:15, out at 4:45, and it’s a non-stop. The last flight of the day lands at 11:30, and it’s a one-stop, stopping in Pueblo first and then coming to Liberal. They ask that you book your tickets at 1-800-UNITED1, or go on united.com. They don’t do the tickets locally at the local office. It’s reliable, dependable service. It’s been in service now for three weeks to the day.”

Giskie said 176 people had boarded the plane as of the day of the joint meeting.

“We’re very happy about that,” she said. “They are currently having a fare sale. It’s on the Leader&Times Web site. It’s also on the City of Liberal’s Web site on the Airport page, $69 one way from Liberal to Denver. It just came online I think yesterday. If you book your tickets online by the 18th of April and use them before the 6th of June, you can get that kind of fare. There are some restrictions. There’s some blackout dates like some weekends and Memorial Day weekend, but would urge you to use the service that we have here in Liberal. It’s nice to have a big airplane that we can 50 passengers on. Fly United. Fly Liberal.”

Giskie said the jet currently being used could be just the beginning for Liberal’s air service.

“If we can fill this plane up a lot, they’ll consider bringing us another flight in, and if we get real big then, they’ll consider bringing another airline in,” she said. “They have co-chairs with American, United, Delta, as well as Alaska Air, so they’ve got a lot of things that they can go to use.”

Seward County Commissioner Jim Rice did have some concerns, though, about lodgings for pilots arriving on late flights.

“There’s no way that they can have transportation to get to the hotel, and I wonder if there isn’t some way that we could remedy that situation,” he said. 

Seward County Administrator April Warden said that remedy could be found from discussions at Discovery meetings at Mid-America Air Museum.

“One thing that they discussed was shuttle services, not only that it’s an issue for the pilots, but it would be nice for the passengers to have that as well,” she said.

Giskie said thus far, despite a few hiccups, SkyWest’s time in Liberal has started smoothly.

“No cancellations yet, had a couple delays, had some ice on the runway Saturday,” she said. “I had to close the runway for a while until we could get Mother Nature to melt it off, but they took off mid-morning.”

 

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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