Columbia Regional Airport selling consistent tickets

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia Regional Airport is staying busy this summer.

Since March, airport officials haven't paid American Airlines for lack of people flying.

The American flight to Chicago Tuesday was even overbooked. One traveler said this is the first time she's seen this happen.

Although it is concerning to travelers, it's situations like this that makes airport officials and American Airlines happy with customers traveling through the airport.

"I thought I was catching the bus to go see my grandma. It's wonderful!" said Pat Etienne, a Columbia Regional Airport traveler.

For the third month in a row, Columbia Regional Airport hit the mark of ticket sales, meaning the airport doesn't have to pay American Airlines.

Etienne moved from Los Angeles and appreciates having a local airport.

"Of course it's expeditious from terminal on to your little plane that is waiting for you, when you come back, you come right into the baggage claim area," Etienne said.

Airport officials are also pleased with Mid-Missouri's support of the local airport.

"Things are looking good. I'm real excited about us not having to pay American, and that's proof that it's working. Some of the naysayers out there are saying, 'What are you guys doing?' We are doing what we're doing because we believe it's going to be successful and it has been," said Greg Cecil, chair of the airport board.

Earlier this year, Delta Airlines and Frontier Airlines pulled out of the Columbia market.

Their departures were disappointing, but they haven't stopped the airport from hoping to keep growing.

Construction is happening on the runway. When that is finished, a new terminal could be on the way.

"I think it's a preview of what is coming. We're growing faster than we realize. But also now we've lost an airlines, do we only have one serving us now," Etienne said.

While officials are optimistic, not all travelers share that vision.

"I hate to see that we are growing so much that it's going to be competitive with other larger airports," said Etienne.

The contract with American Airlines is a two-year deal, ending the beginning of 2015.

Airport officials hope the progress made with American Airlines and their ticket sales will attract other airlines to Columbia.

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