Columbia Regional Airport meets with FAA to discuss terminal relocation
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Regional Airport (COU) was scheduled to meet Tuesday morning with the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss a future terminal relocation.
Don Elliott, the airport manager, said meeting attendees will present the Airport Layout Plan, which determines the preferred site of the new terminal building.
Elliott said this location would be northwest of the airport’s current location. COU’s age and location are two factors influencing the move.
“Our current terminal was designed and built in the '60s, and it doesn’t meet the current ADA recommendations,” Elliott said.
The airport is sandwiched between two general aviation airports, making it difficult to enforce the TSA’s security regulations.
He also said the airport is “not very user-friendly” and noted that the new construction would provide a smoother experience for travelers.
“In the future we won’t have passengers walking out to the aircraft in the rain and in the snow,” Elliott said. “We’ll have jet bridges accessible for everyone.”
The new terminal would feature additional security lanes and food and drink vendors.
The airport currently offers American Airlines flights to Chicago O’Hare and Dallas Fort Worth, but Elliott said he hopes the new terminal will lead to more destination hubs.
“It would be nice if from Columbia you would have a hub to the east, north, south and west,” Elliott said.
While Elliott said he foresees the FAA approving the Airport Layout Plan to relocate, he said it will take at least five years until the terminal is constructed and ready to operate.
“You have to do a lot of the site work prep and have to do the design, and it will take some time,” Elliott said.
Columbia voters approved a lodging tax to help fund airport improvements during the August primary election. Once approved, the FAA would also financially assist the project.
“About half would be federal funding, then we’ll look at state resources,” Elliott said.
In the meantime, Elliott recommended purchasing your ticket early, as the majority of COU flights sell out.
For more information on airport flight schedules, visit www.flycou.com.