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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Columbia Regional adds early morning flight to Chicago

Demand led the airport to add a second flight.

The Columbia Regional Airport will now offer a 6 a.m. daily flight to Chicago.

The airport decided to consult with American Airlines to add another flight after the success of the other daily flight to Chicago O’Hare and two daily flights to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Those flights were added to the lineup Feb. 14, 2013.

“There was simply a huge demand for a second Chicago flight,” Public Works spokesman Steven Sapp said. “When we approached American Airlines and looked at the number of people who booked flights that weren’t able to because it was full, they felt that a second Chicago flight was economically viable.”

The flight leaves at 6 a.m. and comes back at 7:50 a.m. The hours will be beneficial for business travelers, Sapp said.

“(A traveler could) get there in time to conduct business and get back in time to actually watch the 9 a.m. local news,” Sapp said.

The flight began April 2 with a full load and good pre-bookings, Sapp said.

“When we did the inaugural launch for the flight last week, American Airlines informed us that in the American Eagle network, which is the regional carrier for American Airlines, Columbia is No. 1 in load factor and yield, which means we have the highest load factors of any airline in the American Eagle network,” Sapp said.

The American Eagle network has more than 1,700 daily flights and flies to more than 150 cities in multiple countries.

The additional flight will help travelers overcome travel problems such as missing a needed flight, Sapp said.

“When you just have one flight in and out a day and something happens and you can’t make a particular flight, you’re going to be stranded,” Sapp said. “In this particular case, now with two flights a day, at least people have some options.”

There are many options for where people can travel to when they go to Chicago or Dallas/Fort Worth, Sapp said.

“People can have a lot of options out of Columbia Regional Airport that they didn’t have just two years ago,” Sapp said. “We’re flying into the third and ninth-busiest airports in the United States. Connections, both continental and international, are hundreds per day to dozens of different countries.”

American Airlines will be adding nonstop flights to Beijing and Hong Kong from Dallas/Fort Worth this summer, Sapp said.

“By having both the Chicago and Dallas hubs and both of them having nonstop flights to Asiatic destinations, it’s really going to increase the options for business and leisure travelers, as well as students, to utilize Columbia Regional as the first leg of their trip,” Sapp said.

Though Columbia Regional Airport is fairly small, serving about an 18-county area, it will now be more convenient to go there than to drive to St. Louis and fly out of there, Sapp said.

“When you can fly right out of Columbia Regional and not have to drive and park and fight long security lines and so forth, it really becomes a convenient, safe and reliable means of air travel,” Sapp said. “Our goal remains to continue and try to add flights and add destinations over time. We don’t want to grow too fast, but we want to grow just right with what the demand is here in central Missouri.”

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