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March 14, 2012 Volume 33, No. 24

Columbia Regional Airport offering direct flights to Atlanta starting this summer


Flights expected to benefit university, local economy

Officials see great possibilities for the city and university now that Columbia Regional Airport will have direct flights to Atlanta beginning June 7.

Mayor Bob McDavid announced March 2 that Delta Air Lines will offer daily nonstop flights between Columbia and Hartsfield-Jackson International, the busiest airport in America.

For the past five months, MU, the city, the Chamber of Commerce and the airport have worked to bring to bring the flights to Columbia. Jackie Jones, vice chancellor for administrative services, has been closely involved. 

Jones said the Atlanta flights will aid in student recruitment, research opportunities, promoting the university, and domestic and international travel by the Mizzou community.

University events will be easier to attend for people outside of mid-Missouri. “The provost has a stated goal of increasing conferences and seminars, which means bringing more people to campus,” Jones said. 

Robert Duncan, vice chancellor for research, said he’s “delighted” by the Atlanta hub connection because it will increase visits between university scientists and those around the world.

Traveling for Mizzou sports players and fans will be smoother, as well, especially since Missouri athletics will be part of the Southeastern Conference starting this summer.

Columbia’s economic development will likely benefit from the flights, McDavid said at the press conference. Several months ago, an international animal health company backed out of locating to Columbia because booking connection flights to its home office in Barcelona, Spain, was too difficult. McDavid hopes this will never happen again.

“This connection will facilitate job creators by making Columbia and mid-Missouri easily accessible,” McDavid said.

McDavid considers the Atlanta flights the first step in having Columbia’s airport handle 40 percent of flights for area residents by 2020.

“We want those 600 mid-Missourians driving daily to St. Louis to fly out of Columbia Regional Airport,” McDavid said. “We want those 300 mid-Missourians who drive daily to Kansas City International” to do likewise.

The Delta Air Lines flights will depart Columbia at 10:10 a.m. and return at 4:15 p.m. Tickets for flights are on sale now.