United Airlines announces service from Columbia Regional Airport

The airline will offer more direct flights to Chicago as well as Denver, an entirely new destination for the airport.

United Airlines will provide service from Columbia Regional Airport starting Aug. 1, news made public at a city press conference Monday.

According to a press release, the airline plans to offer two additional direct flights to Chicago O’Hare as well as one direct flight to Denver. These destinations will be serviced by 50-seat CRJ200 regional jets, adding 150 additional seats per day from the airport.

"United's new service between Columbia and Denver International Airport offers United customers a much wider array of domestic and international travel options," United’s Missouri sales manager, Andrew Bell, said during the press conference. "With numerous available connections at our Denver hub, we are confident that business and leisure travelers from Columbia will benefit greatly from this flight."

Officials cited the results of a passenger demand analysis as the reason for the additions. Denver was one of the most anticipated destinations from the analysis and will be another option for students traveling from western states and abroad, Bell said.

Some MU students have expressed optimism about the possibility of lower flight costs that could come with the change.

“I would [fly from Columbia] for sure,” MU freshman Nour Feghali, who is from Lebanon, said. “Especially if it's around the time span of breaks. That way, I wouldn't have to drive all the way to Kansas City or St. Louis to travel, and it would make it easier for people to visit me, too.”

However, it remains unclear whether price changes will be substantial enough to draw students away from St. Louis and Kansas City airports, two much larger airports with existing shuttle services from Columbia.

Columbia is in the midst of gathering funds for the construction of a new terminal, which it hopes will allow for even more destinations. Voters approved a tax increase in August that will raise $10 million of the airport’s $38 million goal.

In the press conference, Mayor Brian Treece mentioned Phoenix, Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, as possible future destinations but said any extra growth will depend on the completion of the new terminal.

Edited by Madi McVan | mmcvan@themaneater.com

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