Columbia Regional Airport adds Orlando flight

The+Columbia+Regional+Airport.+Photo+by+Aniqa+Rahman.

The Columbia Regional Airport. Photo by Aniqa Rahman.

Stazi Prost

The Columbia Regional Airport. Photo by Aniqa Rahman

Starting today, Nov. 20, Columbia Regional Airport will offer direct flights to Orlando through Frontier airlines. Because of this additional flight, another has already left. On Nov. 2, the airport ceased flights to Memphis, a change that was bound to happen.
“Columbia is not getting rid of anything,” said Columbia Airport manager Don Elliott. “That decision was made by Delta airlines. Now, before Delta airlines bought out Northwest airlines, Memphis was a major hub for Northwest and it is kind of like when American Airlines bought out Trans World Airlines (TWA) in St. Louis. They ended with an extra hub they really didn’t need. Delta wants to take all the traffic from the Northwest hubs and move it to their main hub in Atlanta.”
Frontier airlines will add the Orlando flight to have more of a family clientele for the airport, Elliott said. While Atlanta already caters to the business community, there is a wish for Frontier to reel in more families. Columbia will begin with two flights per week to Orlando, the first on Tuesday and the second on Saturday.
“Frontier is testing the area, the market right now,” Elliott said. “They are starting small and just seeing how it grows. Of course, if they see more demand, they will add more flights.”
To junior Phoebe Johanningmeier, not having to drive the two hours to St. Louis to catch a flight is a great relief. With Columbia soon providing flights to two major airport hubs, Johanningmeier is happy that she won’t have to wake up extra early as often in order to allot time for the two hours of driving, especially when it comes to her red-eye flights.
“Well I always hate waking up at 2 a.m. to go on a [6:30 a.m.] airplane [flight],” Johanningmeier said. “Because when I finally get to my destination I am tired, whereas if I can take the Columbia Regional airport, I can wake up at 4:30 a.m. and not be as tired or shocked that I had to wake up so early in the morning when I finally get to my final destination.”
Because of its close proximity, Columbia Regional Airport has more benefits than just slicing travel time; it’s most likely the safer choice.  Since there is not a lot of traffic in Columbia compared to Kansas City and St. Louis, driving on Highway 63 rather than busy Interstate 70 after a long day of traveling would be in the traveler’s best interest.
“Well, my brother came back from Bolivia from the St. Louis airport around I think 1 a.m. from delays … actually it was 12 [a.m], midnight, [and] he still had to drive 2 hours to get home,” Johanningmeier said. “So he didn’t get home until 2 in the morning and like it’s dangerous to drive especially that late. [If he used] the Columbia airport, that is 10 minutes from our house so if he got out at the same time at midnight, he would be in at 12:10 a.m. instead. I mean you just go down Highway 63 and you get off and you are home.”
Even though Columbia is a good fit for business travelers and small families, it still has a long way to go before big groups of people can fly out of Columbia rather than St. Louis or Kansas City. While always open to flying out of Columbia, it has never been a practical option for the Education First (EF) Tour groups sponsored by Social Studies teacher, Daniel Ware.
“The problem is that the planes that they use in Columbia right now are smaller planes that maybe only have 80, 100 passengers, tops, and if I am taking a group of 20 students, the odds of being able to find 20 seats on that flight is a lot lower than if we fly St. Louis where there is a flight from St. Louis to Atlanta or Chicago like almost every hour where we can get seats on those flights,” Ware said. “So if they start offering more connections to Atlanta or they open routes to Chicago as well or something like that and they start bringing bigger planes, then we will probably fly out of Columbia.”
With so many people constantly flying out of Columbia, whether it be for business or for pleasure, one might overlook the other benefit the airport gives to Mid-Missouri.
“The more that these flights can connect you to other parts of the country then it is not just allowing us to go to other places but it is bringing other people here,” Ware said. “The more you can bring people here, the better it is for business, for the economy. I think it is a good thing.”
By Stazi Prost
 Have you ever taken a flight out of Columbia’s airport? Comment below.