The City of Columbia and Columbia Regional Airport (COU) has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP) in the amount of $800,000. This grant provides a revenue guarantee and marketing support for proposed new daily nonstop air service to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) between COU with American Airlines.
"Great partnerships result in great opportunities. Our strong relationship with our community partners is reflected in this grant award," Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said. "Expanded air service to Charlotte means enhanced connections throughout the eastern U.S. which brings new and exciting economic and travel opportunities to mid Missouri."
"The grant award is the first step in negotiating an exciting new destination with American Airlines," Economic Development Director for the City of Columbia Stacey Button said. "We will now begin working with American to negotiate and enter into a revenue guarantee contract which will require council approval."
Charlotte consistently ranks high in new destination requests by those who fly or would fly from COU. In addition to serving business and leisure travelers, the University of Missouri, a world renowned research University and a member of the SEC, would reap tremendous benefits flying directly to Charlotte.
"The university is extremely pleased that the Columbia Regional Airport continues to pursue additional air service. Flights to North Carolina’s research triangle will help Mizzou recruit faculty, students and professional staff, as well as make it easier for Mizzou’s researchers to collaborate with their peers at other research universities," MU Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward said.
Listening to passenger and other stakeholder needs, completing the 2009 Airport Master Plan and working diligently with partner airlines is now paying dividends. In just the last 10 years, with the unwavering support of mid Missouri residents, businesses and institutions, COU has seen passenger numbers skyrocket by 120%. In 2019 alone, COU saw a record 265,592 total passengers in arrivals and departures.
"This is great news for Mizzou fans, student-athletes and coaches. The expanded service with direct connections into the entire SEC footprint will make it easier for our fans to travel to our away contests as well as SEC fans to travel to Columbia. Our teams and coaches will have increased travel options that will save valuable time and reduce missed classes," said MU Director of Athletics Jim Sterk.
The $800,000 grant from the Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program will be supplemented by community commitments totaling $310,000.
- $ 80,000 commitment from the University of Missouri
- $150,000 commitment from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)
- $ 80,000 commitment from Columbia Regional Airport for marketing assistance
The grant application was accompanied by strong letters of support from Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Josh Hawley, Representative Vicky Hartzler, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin, COU Airport Advisory Board, Regional Economic Development Inc., Missouri Department of Transportation, Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Convention and Visitor Bureau, University of Missouri and University of Missouri Athletics.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is an American Airlines hub for the eastern and southeastern United States and a secondary hub to the Caribbean. CLT serves more than 169 destinations throughout the world averaging around 680 daily departures.
The Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), a grant program designed to help small communities address air service and airfare issues, is managed by the Associate Director, Small Community Air Service Development, under the Office of Aviation Analysis.