American Airlines plans to announce today that it will add a second flight into Columbia to its Saturday schedule.
The new flight, which is to begin service in May, is being added because the current Saturday flight consistently runs three-quarters full or more — evidence that there is demand for a second flight, said Bill Boston, manager of Columbia Regional Airport.
“We’ve seen from January to February that the number (of passengers) went up substantially,” Boston said. “Now, some of that is seasonal, but the rest is due to a real increase in demand for flights here. This is very good news for us.”
The new flight will arrive in Columbia Regional Airport at 10:20 a.m. and depart for St. Louis at 10:40 a.m.
Boston said comments from passengers also suggested that the sole 6:02 a.m. outbound flight was failing to meet demand. Passengers did not have time to catch connecting flights out of St. Louis or were left with especially long layovers.
Last July, American Airlines announced it would eliminate 210 daily flights in and out of St. Louis’ Lambert Field. In conjunction with that decision, AmericanConnection, which is owned by American, cut its daily round-trip flights from Columbia to St. Louis from five to two.
In August, the Columbia City Council offered the airline a subsidy to keep its early morning flight. The publicity surrounding the offer led to an uptick in ticket sales, Boston said, and the airline added a third daily flight in mid-December.
Before the change, Columbia Regional handled about 200 flights per month, Boston said. The airline runs three round-trip flights a day to St. Louis on Sundays through Fridays.