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Columbia Regional Airport improvements a priority for city

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | 8:32 p.m. CDT; updated 11:34 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 2, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Regional Airport Master Plan includes more than $64 million in improvements — from runway repaving to terminal remodeling — to be completed over the next 20 years.

City Manager Bill Watkins said during his State of the City address Wednesday that improving the airport and its service must be a city priority.

In 2010, the airport will undergo an environmental assessment to ensure it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act, according to the master plan. The Federal Aviation Administration also requires the city to conduct a wildlife hazard assessment to determine whether deer, birds or other animals pose any risk to aircrafts. A proposal awaiting Columbia City Council approval would authorize a  contract Loomacres Wildlife Management to do the assessment and develop a wildlife management plan if necessary.

Watkins said parts of the airport's runways need to be rebuilt to meet FAA standards and to keep them safe. The federal government will reimburse 95 percent of the cost.  According to the master plan, one runway will be extended in 2011 and two more by 2015.

The airport terminal is another step of the remodeling process.

"Our 30-year-old terminal must be modernized and must meet significant federal air security standards," Watkins said.

Terminals are generally ineligible for the federal reimbursement.

Watkins praised the service of Delta Air Lines for its commercial flights to and from Memphis International Airport. Delta announced earlier this year that the service is so successful that it will no longer require a federal Essential Air Service subsidy to sustain the flights. All its flights now feature 50-seat jets.

Watkins said he would like to see flights from Columbia Regional to at least one more significant hub city.

Airport issues are among the myriad matters the City Council will discuss at its retreat this weekend.


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Comments

Bruce McClure June 27, 2010 | 6:50 a.m.

Before they spend 64 million on improvements they should improve the basic service. That would cost nothing. Regional Elite, the company operating the Delta connections, needs to simply focus on helping customers get where they are going in a timely manner. The service is absolutely awful! It is still easier and more reliable to just drive to St. Louis and catch a plane there than to try to fly out of COU.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 27, 2010 | 1:26 p.m.

McClure said, "It is still easier and more reliable to just drive to St. Louis and catch a plane..."

Or to leave your car at home and be chauffeured there and back. Doc and Norm (Mo-X) probably aren't losing sleep over where they're going to find their next customers! You know, time spent on the shuttle CAN be put to good use, such as reading a book, reviewing information related to a business trip, reviewing a presentation (to be given at some meeting), or just taking a nap (especially on the ride home). If you view the run as a waste of time then that's your fault.

(Report Comment)

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