Manhattan's airport will get help attracting new air service to the Flint Hills.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed into law Thursday a bill that allows the state Department of Transportation to subsidize air service to Manhattan's regional airport for two years, up to a million dollars year. The bill requires a 25-percent local match.
Manhattan Regional Airport Director Peter van Kuren says the money will help as the airport continues negotiating with an airline that could provide service to a major international hub. He says the money would lower the risk to the airline, only being used to make up the difference should the number of passengers meet expectations. Van Kuren says he doesn't believe the money will be needed, but says it needs to be there to entice an airline to take a risk on the region.
State and local officials believe improved air service won't only help the economy and nearby Fort Riley. They also believe it will help lure the
proposed, $451 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility to
the Kansas State University campus. Kansas is competing with Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas for the new lab. Defense officials plan to announce the chosen location this fall.
Manhattan Regional Airport will have air service starting at the end of March from Great Lakes Aviation. It will provide flights to Denver and Kansas City. Van Kuren says he is negotiating with an airline he cannot name for the service that would be helped by the new subsidy.