Federal Grant To Help Air Service Take Flight In Topeka

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Topeka will receive $950,000 through the Small Community Air Service Development Program. The money will offset startup costs, provide an initial revenue guarantee and marketing support.

MTAA President Eric Johnson was in a board meeting Tuesday afternoon and learned of the grant when 13 News asked him about it following the meeting.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," Johnson said. "This is something we've been working on for quite some time and it'll give us the opportunity to go out, talk to some airlines and put together a nice package to bring air service back to Topeka Kansas."

He says the State of Kansas is matching the federal grant with $1 million from its Air Service Incentive Fund and the MTAA is providing another $250,000.

"I'm hopeful that certainly by this time next year, we'll be able to have air service in Topeka," he said.

Johnson says apart from some cosmetic upgrades, Forbes Field is ready for commercial air service. As for service destinations, that's still up in the air, but Johnson says Chicago, as well as Dallas or Denver could be on the horizon.

Topeka is one of 33 communities across the country receiving a total of $13.9 million through the U.S. Department of Transportion's program.

Complete news release from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation:
U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Grant To Improve Topeka's Air Service

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a grant of $950,000 to help Topeka, Kan. improve its airline service. Topeka is one of 33 communities across the country receiving a total of $13.9 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Small Community Air Service Development Program, which helps small communities develop their own solutions to local air service needs.

The grant to Topeka will be used to offset start-up costs, provide an initial revenue guarantee and marketing support for non-stop service to Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Public and private sector partners will contribute an additional $950,000 to the program.

"Local air service provides a critical link between our small communities and the nation's air transportation system," Secretary LaHood said. "This grant will help Topeka improve its air service and provide better travel options for its residents."

The grant program began in 2002 to help small communities address the challenges of local air service, such as high fares, insufficient levels of service, and lack of competition. Since then, the awards have helped more than 300 communities develop projects tailored to their own air service needs, such as providing financial incentives to carriers, conducting studies on the possibilities of expanded service, and carrying out marketing programs to promote existing local service.

Nearly all of the grant recipients have made financial commitments toward their grant projects, and most recipients have teamed with local government and the business community to address their local air service