Columbia Regional Airport sets start date for new Chicago flight

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 | 6:46 p.m. CST; updated 8:06 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 11, 2013

COLUMBIA — Beginning April 2, Columbia Regional Airport will be offering a morning flight to Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

The new American Airlines daily flight will leave the airport at 6 a.m., arriving in Chicago shortly after 7 a.m., according to a release from Columbia Public Works. Steve Sapp, public information specialist with Columbia Public Works, said Chicago was a highly requested flight option.

"Chicago was one of the top five destinations that had been requested by folks that fly in mid-Missouri," Sapp said. "When (the airport's partnership with) American Airlines recently launched this year, they offered two daily flights from Dallas. It became evident early on there was demand for both."

The Columbia airport currently offers two daily nonstop flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and a daily evening nonstop to Chicago O'Hare.

The City Council considered the additional Chicago flight at a meeting in October, according to previous Missourian reporting. American Airlines requested an additional revenue guarantee of $500,000 to cover the additional flight through February 2015.

American's flights out of Columbia began February 14, after Delta Airlines discontinued flights to Columbia.

Bernie Andrews, executive vice president of Regional Economic Development Inc., said having an additional flight to an airport hub will make travel more productive and provide economic benefits as well.

"From an economic development standpoint, both hubs (Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago) offer flights to international destinations," Andrews said. "We are seeing more international prospects these days."

He said the additional flight could potentially attract businesses to Columbia.

"The bottom line is the more flights we have into airline hub cities, the more favorably we will be looked at by additional companies, in terms of attracting other companies and for our existing companies and the University of Missouri," he said.

Sapp said there were two key advantages to the new Chicago flight. Flyers will be able to make international connections from Chicago, particularly to Asia, and having a morning flight also means people on business trips will not have to account for overnight travel.

Megan McConachie, web and communications manager for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the flight means easier access for those flying out of Columbia for tourism.

"Anytime we add another new flight to our airport, it will have a great impact on our community, especially from a tourism standpoint," McConachie said.

Pre-booking for the new flight is now available on the American Airlines website.

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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