Story updated at 5:47pm Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Columbia Regional Airport will offer nonstop flights to and from Orlando, Florida, beginning November 20. Frontier Airlines will fly 138 passengers directly between the Columbia Regional Airport and the Orlando International Airport in Florida on the Airbus 319. Mayor Bob McDavid told reporters at a press conference Thursday that the new route will increase the airport’s passenger traffic by 27 percent.
Delta airlines announced in July a second daily flight to Atlanta, Georgia, starting in September. The addition of these two routes is part of the city’s initiative to increase the percentage of air passengers who use the Columbia Regional Airport from seven percent to 40 percent by 2020. However, McDavid says the Columbia Regional Airport’s departure lounge can only squeeze in 125 passengers and is not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
“I will be asking the city manager to advance the design work for the airport,” McDavid says, “ To advance it from next year’s budget through the use of council contingency funds beginning in the near future.”
He says the city might propose a new sales or property tax or an increase in the hotel occupancy tax to fund the new terminal. McDavid estimated the cost of the new terminal to be 15 million dollars based on similar-sized projects in Bloomington, Illinois, and Joplin.
“You may assume, number one, that there are ongoing negotiations about continuing to improve our air service. You may assume that, number two, these negotiations involve other major hubs. You may assume, number three, that a revenue guarantee will be necessary to go beyond this level of service.” Mayor McDavid says.
That revenue guarantee is a deal between an airport and an air carrier that a minimum amount of revenue is made on a route.
Frontier Airlines also issued a press release on its website regarding the new flights.