DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – PenAir, which serves Dodge City and Liberal, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the search is on for a new airline.
“It is a long process, that’s for sure,” said Corey Keller, who manages Dodge City Regional Airport.
PenAir will be in Dodge and Liberal for the next 90 days — and possibly longer — until the airport can find a new airline.
Dodge City resident Andrew Priest flies to Denver for work several times per year and says he was happy with PenAir’s direct flight to the city.
“The next best option is you have to go through Dallas out of Garden City and it’s just a pain, so this is a lot more convenient,” he said.
For Dodge City, which has a large tourism industry, reliable air service is crucial to keep the town accessible for tourists.
“If people can’t get here to Dodge City, then it affects all aspects of tourism,” said Keller.
In their search for a new airline, a major thing the airport is looking for is what flight times they’ll be able to offer. Officials say there’s a connection between the current flight times and the low ridership numbers.
“With the schedule and two afternoon flights,” said Keller, “if we had morning and afternoon, we would see better numbers than that.”
It’s a possibility that excites passengers like Priest.
“That would be nice,” said Priest, “because it would be much more convenient to be able to get there in the morning rather than get there the day before, just because of how the flights are. That would be nice if the new one did that, it’d be great. I’d use it a lot more often probably.”
There’s a lot of uncertainty. A new airline will need to balance the needs of two communities.
“We’re still working with Liberal to find something that will work for both cities,” said Keller.
There’s isn’t a date set yet for when PenAir will stop serving the region. Anyone who bought a ticket for a flight after a new airline takes over should contact PenAir to ask about refunds.