Columbia Regional Airport will add another daily flight to Chicago on Wednesday. Leaders say it's just the beginning of something larger in their partnership with American Airlines.
Airport officials think it will boost the airport's departure numbers to about 120,000 a year. Last year, the airport serviced roughly 80,000 people.
The relationship with American Airlines is working despite their past dealings with other airlines. Officials said it's because of their revenue service agreement. It's a deal where if a flight doesn't sell the amount of seats it needs to make a profit, the airport will foot the rest of the bill.
Since American Airlines started offering flights last year, the airport only paid roughly $20,000 into this agreement during its first month. Since then, it is now the twelfth consecutive month that flights have been full and the city has paid nothing.
Greg Cecil, the chair of the city's airport advisory board, said last year they wanted to add more flights and destinations with Delta to meet the demand. But, Delta refused. Soon after, the airport formed a partnership with American Airlines.
The airport hopes to expand in the next few years, adding bigger planes, more flights and locations and two to three more carriers.
For now, the flight beginning on Wednesday has a departure time of 6 a.m. This means, passengers can fly to Chicago to conduct business during the day and be home in time to watch the evening news, according to Cecil.
A celebration in honor of the new flight will occur on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Columbia Regional Airport.