Delta to Begin Nonstop Flights to Atlanta in June

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COLUMBIA - Mayor Bob McDavid announced Friday Delta Airlines would be adding a daily nonstop flight to Atlanta beginning in June. Currently, the airline's only flight from Columbia is to Memphis.

McDavid said the flights will begin June 7 departing at 10:10 a.m. and returning at 4:15 p.m. The mayor said the new flights will open up easier service for business and University of Missouri travelers to reach international destinations.  McDavid said the city lost a potential employer because the company could not get to Barcelona, Spain in two hops.

The mayor said the new flights help move the airport forward with plans to serve 40 percent of air travel needs from mid-Missouri by 2020. McDavid said right now, 600 people drive each day to fly out of St. Louis, and 300 people do the same to Kansas City. McDavid said talks are underway to secure nonstop air service from Columbia to Chicago and Dallas in order to serve passengers who want to fly north or west more conveniently.

McDavid credited city manager Mike Mathes, state lawmakers, and the Columbia business community for helping secure the new flight.

Mathes said the city is planning to spend $40 million to improve the infrastructure at Columbia Regional over the next seven years.

The mayor ended the news conference touting the benefits of flying from Columbia, including a short drive to and from the airport, free parking, and easier security check-in.

Answering reporter's questions, McDavid said the airport's current capacity can handle the Atlanta flight. When asked about expansion for additional airlines or flights to other cities, McDavid said that would be a "good problem to have."