Delta flights from Columbia to Atlanta begin Thursday

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 5:23 p.m. CDT; updated 5:37 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 5, 2012

COLUMBIA — The first Delta Air Lines flights from Columbia Regional Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will begin Thursday.

Delta will now have one flight to Atlanta that will be daily and nonstop, leaving Columbia at 10:10 a.m. and returning from Atlanta at 4:15 p.m.

The airport has been offering three daily flights to Memphis, the Columbia airport's other destination. According to its Facebook page, the airport will now have one flight to Atlanta and two to Memphis each day.

Mayor Bob McDavid said flights to Atlanta are already filling up faster than flights to Memphis.

"The first Atlanta flight on Thursday has been booked at a substantially higher rate compared to flights booked to Memphis," McDavid said.

"We've been very pleased with our service to Memphis," McDavid said. "But Atlanta has always been a target." 

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world's busiest airport, with more than 243 destinations in 60 countries, according to its website.

"With more than 600 international flights a week, it gives travelers many more options," McDavid said.

Instead of driving to St. Louis Lambert International Airport or Kansas City International Airport, mid-Missourians will now be able to fly right out of Columbia, McDavid said

Since Missouri joined the SEC this year, establishing a partnership with the airport will allow for easier travel related to SEC events as well, McDavid said.

Additional flights will also help with "40 in 2020," an initiative that aims to have the Columbia airport hosting 40 percent of all airline travel for mid-Missourians by 2020, McDavid said.

"We are working pretty hard to get additional hubs," McDavid said. "Additional services will definitely be needed to reach the 40 percent goal.

"We'd love to have Chicago as a hub. We'd also like a hub that connects to the West."

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is hosting two events Thursday to mark the beginning of the new transit opportunities. The day begins with a send-off of passengers starting at 9 a.m.

Members of regional chambers of commerce from Columbia, Jefferson City, Kingdom of Callaway and Moberly will also greet passengers after the first flight from Atlanta to Columbia lands at 4:15 p.m. Festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. and continue with an official ribbon cutting at 4:25 p.m.

Speakers at the inaugural celebration will include McDavid, MU Vice Chancellor Jackie Jones and Columbia Chamber of Commerce Chair Vicki Russell.

Marching Mizzou, Truman the Tiger, MU Cheerleaders and the Golden Girls will also be at the airport to welcome the arriving passengers.

For more information about the flights, visit the airport's website.

Supervising editor is Ann Elise Taylor

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