Columbia Regional Airport will have a second airline taking off this week when United Airlines flights to Denver and Chicago begin.
United will provide twice daily flights between Columbia and Chicago O’Hare International Airport starting Tuesday and a daily flight to and from Denver International Airport starting Wednesday.
With the addition of the Denver flight, Columbia passengers will be able to fly to three of the top five megahub airports in the country. Denver was one of the top requested destinations out of Columbia, according to a news release from the city.
The new flights will offer direct competition with American Airlines, which also flies to Chicago as well as Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The plan was initially announced in a February by United Airlines. At a press conference after the release, Mayor Brian Treece cited an 85 percent growth in demand for flights in and out of Columbia Regional Airport since 2010. Additionally, the first quarter of 2017 experienced significantly more departures and arrivals than the first quarter of 2016.
Lisa Bright, vacation manager for Adelman Travel Group, told the Missourian that it has been difficult to book a flight to Chicago because of high demand.
The flights to Denver and Chicago will use 50-seat Bombardier CJ200 planes, Andrew Bell, United Airlines’ sales manager for Missouri, previously told the Missourian.
The City Council approved up to $600,000 in revenue guarantees as part of its agreement with United Airlines. The revenue guarantee ensures that the airline makes at least $600,000 on its flights to and from Denver for the first year. What’s left of the funds after a year will be returned to donors.
In preparation for the influx of passengers when the new flights begin, Columbia Regional Airport posted an announcement on its website requesting passengers to arrive 20-30 minutes earlier than required between Aug. 2 and Aug. 16 in order to accommodate the four early-morning flights set to leave the airport within a one-hour window.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Wednesday afternoon and feature local officials.
Supervising editor is Claire Mitzel.