The 30-passenger plane will depart Columbia at 5:12 p.m. and arrive in St. Louis at 5:57 p.m.
Bill Mishk, vice president for planning with Trans States Airlines, which operates AmericanConnection, said the flight was added in response to increased demand for seats on flights out of Columbia Regional. The new flight will provide more options for travel to St. Louis and beyond, Mishk said.
“Also, the availability of discount fares will increase as there are more seats available,” Mishk said.
The added flight comes less than a year after AmericanConnection cancelled three of its five flights from Columbia to St. Louis. In November, the City Council approved a 90-day subsidy for AmericanConnection to support a third flight with a late arrival from and an early departure to St. Louis. Although the subsidy came with a renewal option, the airline has declined any additional assistance from the city.
“We decided to rebuild (the service), as we felt comfortable with the boardings,” Mishk said.
Skies getting friendlier
After last year’s cutbacks, the increase in departures is “continually improving news,” said Bill Boston, manager of Columbia Regional Airport. Last month, Trans States announced it would add a second Saturday flight out of Columbia, beginning May 1. Boston said that while roundtrip fares to St. Louis — currently $60 — will remain the same, he expects bookings in and out of Columbia to continue to grow.
“The number of people flying out of here will go up because the people who couldn’t make a connection are now able to do that,” Boston said.
Even with the additional flights, there’s still a need to get people from mid-Missouri to St. Louis, a major hub for domestic and international flights. Mishk said Trans States wasn’t looking to the future but rather focusing on the impact of the new flight on the market.
He said the airline has taken a “cautious, steady approach” to service needs in Columbia. Mishk said, with the summer travel season approaching, now was the right time to add a flight.
“We’ll have to assess going forward into fall and winter months whether we’ll keep the flight,” he said. “I’d have to say right now that all signs are very encouraging.”