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      Columbia Regional Airport welcomes American Airlines

      Columbia Regional Airport welcomes flights through American Airlines

      It was fitting that the first flight from the windy city to land at Columbia Regional Airport happened on a windy evening.

      American Airlines flight 3919 from Chicago landed at around 5:20 this evening, followed by a departure at 5:40 to Dallas-Fort Worth.

      This flight marked the beginning of a new era of easier transportation for mid-Missourians. The airport started offering commercial flights in 2008.

      Delta airlines, the most recent flight service out of Columbia chose to leave Columbia Regional because city officials guaranteed 3 million dollars in revenue to American Airlines.

      This means the airport will no longer have service to Atlanta, but service to Orlando through Frontier airlines will remain.

      The airport hosted a special reception this evening complete with appetizers, beverages, and cake to welcome the flight through American.

      Passengers, as well as airline and regional officials were very excited to get the ball rolling.

      "I think the air service is partly about getting residents from mid-Missouri out, but it's also about making that star that represents mid-Missouri shine even brighter on the map," commented American Airlines Senior Manager Brett Hooyerink.

      Both Jefferson City and Columbia's mayors were at the reception. Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid said he's excited for the opportunities the University of Missouri will have with the new flight options. He said it will be convenient for students traveling, as well as for recruiting purposes within the athletic department.

      "I think it's great for Jefferson City and economic development not just in Jefferson City but our whole region. Because now families and businesses can not only fly out of here but other families, SEC teams, all of the above can fly here much easier and that helps our whole economy," said Jefferson City Mayor Eric Struemph.

      Cole County presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said he thinks people are reacting well to the new routes. "I think people are very positive to see more growth, more flights, more accessibility for mid-Missouri which is good for Cole County, it's good for Jeff City, it's good for all of us."

      A passenger from Columbia, Pat Malone, was on board tonight's flight from Chicago for business.

      "Oh I'm excited about it. This is obviously the first flight in from American Airlines and I had a great flight."

      Airline officials said flights are full for the next few days, and they expect good demand for seats on these flights.

      Columbia Regional Airport will provide two flights to and from Dallas, and one to and from Chicago each day. Frontier airlines will add a third flight to Orlando starting April 8th.

      American Airlines tickets will be around $200 round trip.