Columbia Regional Airport has a tentative agreement with American Airlines to offer two daily flights to Dallas, and one flight a day to Chicago, Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid announced Thursday.
The mayor says the flights will be on American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines.
The announcement comes after months of discussion with several airlines. Tonight, McDavid told KBIA that $3.3 million had been pledged by various businesses to lure another airline and aid in air service expansion.
“It was collaborative from the word ‘Go,’” McDavid said.
He mentioned the city had worked with a consultant who told McDavid, “Of the 450 airports in the country, by the year 2020, 100 of those will no longer have airplanes.”
“His critical number was 150,000 passengers both ways- and we’re half that right now. In collaboration with the business community and the university, we took this on as an all or none deal,” McDavid said. “We’re either going to make that threshold or we could expect to have no air service.”
McDavid expects the airport expansion to be an incentive for business growth in Columbia.
He added the new airline was “a necessity” for the University, expected to attract more out-of-state students from the Chicago and Dallas areas.
McDavid announced the flights would start in February, pending approval from Columbia City Council.
“It’s up to us. It’s ours to lose,” he said.
The flight to Chicago-O'Hare is already listed on American Airlines' website, beginning February 14th.