UPDATE: Columbia Regional Airport announces upgrade to Delta Air Lines service

Friday, December 18, 2009 | 4:00 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – A new jet service at Columbia Regional Airport allows for more seats to meet increasing passenger demand.

“Jets are more favorable by passengers because they’re bigger, more comfortable and less noisy,” said Jill Stedem, a spokeswoman for the Columbia Public Works Department.

Beginning Feb. 11, 2010, Delta Air Lines plans to upgrade one of the daily round-trip flights out of Columbia Regional Airport to a 50-seat regional jet.

“Currently our turboprops can only seat 34 passengers,” Stedem said. “Really the amount of passengers the props can carry is based on weight limitations. So on average they carry about 30 people depending on weight.”

The new regional jets will be used for the last arrival of the day from Memphis International Airport and the first departure of the morning from the Columbia airport.

Stedem said Columbia Regional Airport has not had a similar jet service since the 1970s. The new jet service will help alleviate some of the congestion created by the increase in passengers and not enough seats available in the smaller planes.

The airport served 2,081 passengers in September, 2,204 in October and 2,092 in November.

“The last arrival of the day and the first departure of the morning are always and continuously full,” Stedem said. “In the past, for our busier flights, we had to ask passengers to get on a later flight.”

Travelers will be able to reserve seats on the new plane starting Saturday.

"This is another firm step toward achieving the community’s vision of continuously improving air service out of Columbia Regional," City Manager Bill Watkins said in a news release. "Delta (Air Lines) looked at the facts and made a commitment to work with us as our passenger numbers continue to climb. We’re very pleased with Delta’s decision."

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