COLUMBIA — Citing the popularity of its Sunday flights to Memphis from Columbia Regional Airport, Northwest Airlink plans to add a third Sunday flight to its schedule beginning Jan. 5.
The airline's 33-seat Saab 340s now leave Columbia only twice on Sundays. When the third Sunday flight is added, Saturday flights will be cut from three to two.
Flights on Sunday will depart from Columbia during the morning, afternoon and evening at 6 a.m., 11:25 a.m. and 4:25 p.m.
The switch in Saturday and Sunday flight times comes in response to flight ridership. Jill Stedem, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Public Works Department, said the flights on Sunday are attracting more passengers than those on Saturday.
Northwest Airlink, a subsidiary of Mesaba and its parent company, Northwest Airlines, has enjoyed great success since beginning the Memphis flights Aug. 19. Once passengers reach Memphis, which boasts an international airport, they can catch connection flights to 91 domestic and international destinations, which is an improvement from previous connections in St. Louis and Kansas City.
MU's director of business services, Paul Toler, praised the change.
"Service out of Columbia Regional with Northwest has been met with great success, and ridership has exceeded expectations," Toler said.
"This month's numbers are really good," Stedem added.
So far in the month of October, the airline has had 2,090 advanced bookings, with one more week to add more people, Stedem said. In addition, the load factor, or the percent of occupied seats on flights, was 76 percent for the first half of October.