Delta rejects city offer for revenue guarantee, will discontinue service in February

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | 5:10 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Delta Air Lines has rejected an offer from the city for a revenue guarantee in exchange for continuing its service between Columbia and Atlanta, Mayor Bob McDavid announced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The airline will decrease the frequency of its flights between Columbia Regional Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to one flight a day for the first two weeks of February. After that, the flights will end, McDavid said. 

"I'm disappointed they declined our revenue guarantee," McDavid said. "I was shocked by their bluntness."

The city sent Delta an offer of a $3 million guarantee spread over two years starting in 2014, a waiver of landing fees and an unspecified "advertising component." As part of the offer, Delta would have continued running twice-daily flights between Columbia and Atlanta, and would have used larger planes than it does now.

The airline turned down the offer in a phone call this morning, City Manager Mike Matthes said.

Neither the city nor local organizations had made pledges to the $3 million revenue guarantee offered to Delta, Matthes said. The offer was a goal that the city would have tried to arrange, he said.

McDavid expressed hope that the city and Delta could reach a new deal in the future.

"That $3 million remains a standing offer," he said. "We will continue to seek new destinations."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.


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Richard Saunders November 6, 2012 | 5:37 p.m.

Maybe one wouldn't be so shocked if they weren't filled with delusions of grandeur?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin November 6, 2012 | 5:57 p.m.

Mr. Mayor: Delta was obviously shocked by your rudeness!

But what do you expect? What should we expect?

First, you, Mr. Matthes and your insular circle of decision makers take OUR money as a guarantee to American, a Delta competitor with an iffy track record and no commitment here.

You don't offer same to Delta, nor do you give them even the least hint of your plans.

Next, you get all in a huff when Delta objects, even chiding them publicly because they chose to write a letter and go public rather than talk to you over the phone.

All the while, you're scowling and frowning at our local hotels because they aren't at all jazzed about your plans for a $17 million tax on them to support said airport.

You've developed this off-putting way of slapping people in the face who've put in the time, put in the money, put in the investment here.

Just like your support of Blight to lure out-of-area businesses, to the detriment of locals if need be.

Just like the big new hotel tax.

Just like this:

MAYOR MCDAVID RANT: City should NOT help locals grow jobs, start businesses here

(Report Comment)
Cole Kennedy November 7, 2012 | 10:42 a.m.

The city guaranteeing any business revenue is just absurd to begin with. If there aren't enough customers to support the business, it shouldn't be here. Obviously, not enough people consider flying out of Columbia a vital service.

However, I'd love to see mid-Missouri become more connected to the rest of the region through HSR. It would make the commute to Lambert for flights significantly more pleasant, and would actually make sense for this market. Here's to hoping the continued stimulus over the next few years will convince the state/the federal government to start building a cross-state HSR, preferably with a stop in Columbia.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 7, 2012 | 10:52 a.m.

Cole Kennedy wrote:

"However, I'd love to see mid-Missouri become more connected to the rest of the region through HSR."

I'd like to see that at least planned and costed just for its efficiency, but Mo-X provides a fairly cost effective and popular service that does the same thing. I see high speed rail more as competition for airlines over shorter hauls (less than 800 miles or so), and you'd need a fairly high passenger density (plus more expensive petroleum than we have now) to make that work.


(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 7, 2012 | 12:00 p.m.

Now that the city has made the $3 million guarantee fund available for American (and the Tribune reports that Delta claimed losses of $900K serving Columbia), no additional airlines will come to Columbia without seeking such a guarantee for themselves. Crony capitalism is what I'm smelling from the city council.

(Report Comment)

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