Trans States Airlines will offer three flights out of Columbia Regional Airport beginning Dec. 15, but only after it cuts its current schedule of five flights to two beginning Saturday.
Trans States, the airport’s only airline and connection to American Airlines, chose to add the December flight late last week after examining the number of advance bookings. According to those numbers, Columbia is in the upper third of Trans States’ advance bookings in the Midwest market, airline spokesman Bill Mishk said.
Mishk said advance bookings into January and February flights are part of a trend. The bookings considered did not include holiday flights.
The additional third flight is subject to review based on future winter loads. Winter is typically a weak travel season in the Midwest, he said.
“We had enough faith (to add the flight),” Mishk said. “It’s incumbent on the community to keep the momentum going. And if the momentum doesn’t last through the winter months, we’ll take a second look at it.”
Trans States’ third flight from Columbia Regional will leave at 10:40 a.m. and arrive in St. Louis at 11:25 a.m. The other two flights planned after Saturday will leave Columbia at 6:10 a.m. and 3:07 p.m., according to a Trans States news release.
Flights from Columbia Regional will be cut starting on Saturday when American Airlines will also cut almost half of its St. Louis departures.
After American Airlines announced in July that it would cut its St. Louis departures, Trans States announced in turn that it would cut flights from Columbia Regional from five daily to two. The Columbia City Council in August offered the airline a subsidy to preserve its early morning-late evening flight.
Airport Manager William Boston said publicity surrounding that subsidy might have helped boost demand for flights out of Columbia Regional.
“We got what we asked for (with the early morning/late night flight) and because of that I think more people said ‘Ah, we’re getting what we want, so we’re going to go ahead and fly out of Columbia,’” Boston said. “We saw the bookings stay high to the end of November when we were worried they would tail off.”