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New flights to Atlanta prove convenient for first passengers

Thursday, June 7, 2012 | 6:32 p.m. CDT; updated 10:10 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 8, 2012
Regina Esser, customer service coordinator at Columbia Regional Airport, marshals the inaugural Delta Air Lines flight Thursday morning. The flight carried 46 passengers from Columbia to Atlanta.

COLUMBIA — Columbia residents Jerry and Judy Schermer were a couple hours away from beginning their 25th wedding anniversary celebration in Charleston, S.C., on Thursday.

Carry-on luggage in hand, Jerry and Judy Schermer said it was just a coincidence they were flying on the inaugural flight from Columbia Regional Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

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Still, having the new flight makes traveling faster and easier for them, Jerry Schermer said.

The Schermers were two of the 46 people who took flight Thursday morning on the first departure from Columbia to Atlanta.

The decision to partner with Atlanta stemmed from the airport's international accessibility. It offers more than 600 international flights a week, as well as flights to many cities in the U.S., Mayor Bob McDavid said.

More convenient than other airports

Being able to fly from Columbia directly to Atlanta will give travelers more options and make traveling much more convenient, McDavid said.

"Atlanta can get you pretty much anywhere in the world," passenger Amy Potts of Jefferson City said.

Flying out of Columbia instead of St. Louis or Kansas City proved much more convenient for Potts.

"If I flew out of St. Louis, I would have needed to be there at 6 this morning," Potts said as she eyed her watch that read 9:45 a.m. and smiled.

Columbia lawyer Russ Still, traveling to Washington, D.C., for business, said the flight ticket was more costly but in the end worth it.

"It was a couple hundred dollars more, but I guess it's worth it," he said. "Time is money."

Plus, he still would have spent $40 to $50 for parking and paid for gas if he had to fly out of St. Louis, he said.

"It really adds up," Still said.

Making it easier for the community

Sabrina McDonnell, executive vice president of Landmark Bank and chair of the public campaign task force for the Columbia airport, said in recent months McDavid and other public officials have focused more of their attention on the air service.

"The more opportunities there are to fly and the more people that do fly, the better it will be for the community," McDonnell said.

McDavid and other public officials aim to have the Columbia airport host 40 percent of all airline travel for mid-Missourians by 2020, McDavid said Tuesday.

He said Atlanta is the first step toward this goal and hopes to have Columbia partner with additional airports in the future.

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

Having a direct flight to Atlanta will make everything much easier for business and leisure travelers in Columbia and the surrounding communities, McDonnell said.

"I go on business a lot," she said. "The price is always comparable, and now I can be home in 15 minutes."

Supervising editor is Celia Darrough.


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