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The tail of a Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 operating for American Eagle. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

Wichita Lands Phoenix Competition with New American Service

One of Wichita’s most popular carriers has officially launched its newest route from the city as American Airlines flew its inaugural flight from Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Wednesday. The largest airline to serve Wichita, American will fly the route daily through the winter and spring seasons before seasonally suspending the route on May 6, 2020.

The new service is operated by American’s Phoenix-based regional carrier, Mesa Airlines, with its 76-seat Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft, the largest it operates for American. The inbound flight departs Phoenix at 1:22 p,m. and arrives in Wichita at 4:36 p,m. CST. After a 38-minute layover in the Air Capital of the World, the aircraft departs again and returns to American Airlines’ Southwest hub at 7:08 p.m., in time for the evening bank of departures to the West Coast.

Passengers on Wednesday’s inaugural were treated in Wichita to American Airlines-themed decorations and a table full of American branded merchandise that they were allowed to take. Cake and cupcakes were also available for the first flyers.

For Wichita, the start of American’s service continues to allow the carrier to expand outside of its Dallas and Chicago-dominated route map. The airline is the largest at Wichita, taking on roughly 27 percent of all of Wichita’s commercially flying passengers in 2018.

The route to Phoenix is also welcomed direct competition on another route as the city pushes for more competitive and expansive service with the “I Fly Wichita” campaign. The Wichita-Phoenix route has been served with a nonstop flight since 2016 when Southwest added it to its network to avoid directly competing with American on Wichita-Dallas services. The Kansas town also offers flights to Phoenix’s Mesa Gateway Airport on ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air on Mondays and Fridays.

The new route joins a select list of routes that see more than one airline offering service. Others include Wichita-Denver via Frontier Airlines and United Airlines,; Wichita-Denver served by American Airlines and United Airlines and Wichita-Las Vegas via Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air.

Wichita has had a run of success landing new flights in recent years with Frontier, Alaska and Allegiant all announcing routes that have maintained or increased their positions on the Wichita timetable. As a result, the airport has seen passenger numbers steadily increase and 2019 is expected to continue that trend with a 5.6 percent jump in total passengers already occurring through the first ten months of this year compared to the first ten months of 2018.

Ian McMurtry
Ian McMurtry
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