The Columbia City Council held a special meeting Friday to officially introduce a potential agreement with American Airlines. The meeting was adjourned after four minutes, but the short meeting could expedite the process of Columbia Regional Airport beginning to offer flights to Chicago and Dallas. Mayor Bob McDavid says these flights would benefit MU and businesses in Columbia.
"I like to say that on the coast we’re known as ‘fly over country,'" McDavid said. "Well we want to be known as ‘fly into country.’”
The Jefferson City Council agreed to provide the Columbia Regional Airport with $100,000 to help attract more airline services.
City Councilman Ralph Bray says Columbia has approached a number of cities in mid-Missouri for help in its attempt to bring a third airline to the airport.
“Well, it’s very, very exciting," Bray says. "Columbia has done a lot of work for the past couple of years or so, I believe, in studying the issue of providing greater air transportation and that would allow for international connections.”
Mayor Bob McDavid says he now has secured $3 million in pledges to attract a new airline to the Columbia Regional Airport. Roughly half of the money comes from the city. The rest is from private business interests, the Boone County Commission and MU.
McDavid says the new destinations will be big boost for businesses in Columbia, but also for people connected to the University of Missouri
The Columbia Hospitality Association says it’s concerned with a proposed lodging tax increase. The tax, which would increase current lodging taxes by three to seven percent, would help fund improvements to the terminal at Columbia Regional Airport. President of CHA, Heather Hargrove says that bearing the burden of restructuring or building a new airport terminal is not fair to other industries, the lodging industry in particular.
The University of Missouri football team will host its first Southeastern Conference game on Saturday night, but Delta Airlines is preparing for the occasion as well.
Delta has added an extra, one-time direct flight from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport to Columbia Regional Airport on Saturday, ahead of Missouri’s matchup with the University of Georgia. An extra, nonstop flight returning to Atlanta has also been scheduled for Sunday morning.
The flights are in addition to the regular, daily flights between the airports that began in June.