Business
4:41 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Columbia regional airport spreads its wings to Atlanta

The Columbia Regional Airport will expand its reach beginning in June. 

Beginning June 7th, the Columbia Regional Airport will add one midday flight to Atlanta, a major hub that officials say will drastically expand its ability to reach international destinations. Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid hinted that the city isn’t done.

“We need to tap the Chicago market for Chicago’s growing base of University of Missouri students and Chicago’s Asian flight connections,"said McDavid,  "Dallas would provide connections west, increase our international reach, and allow the University of Missouri to focus on Dallas area recruitment.”

The mayor says the city, the University of Missouri and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce has established a goal. He says by the year 2020, they want 40 percent of mid-Missouri travelers to choose Columbia Regional instead of St. Louis or Kansas City. Chamber chair Greg Steinhoff says change will be incremental, but it needed to start somewhere.

“The situation sometimes is a chicken and the egg thing. If you don’t have a lot of quality air service, then people are not compelled to use the airport," Steinhoff said. "But unless you a lot of people to use the airport, you can’t make the case to go out and the get quality air service.”

The university hopes the new destination will allow for smoother travel for international students, researchers and athletes heading to Southeast Conference locations.