Columbia Regional Airport reopens after runway modifications
COLUMBIA - Columbia Regional Airport announced Saturday it is back open, days after shutting down because of worries about the safety of its backup runway. COU said flights should resume early next week.
United Airlines said they anticipate flights to resume Sunday afternoon. American Airlines said they will resume their flights on April 16.
"Runway 13-31 at the intersection of 2-20 has been modified to address pilot safety and customer experience concerns brought to our attention last weekend. Your safety is and always will be our first priority," COU said on its Facebook page.
An area of the runway called the crown was creating significant bumps, because it was at an angle that caused each of the airplanes' wheels to cross it one at a time, COU said.
The airport was closed so construction crews could pour asphalt to level it out, the airport said.
"We know the closure at COU has impacted many of you with cancelled, delayed, and changed flights. And for some, unexpected out of pocket expenses. We say with the same sincerity we did at the beginning of the week, we are sorry and we apologize," the Facebook post said.
John Sullins, a frequent flier of COU, said he was surprised when the airport closed and is glad the airport is now reopening.
“It’s much easier. The drive to Kansas City or St. Louis is unbearable. If I have a choice, I would fly out of Columbia,” he said.
Sullins said he flies through COU one to two times a month, so he had to keep following updates to see if his flights were canceled.
“I saw the Facebook posts about some of the intermittent cancelations and it was a little bit concerning that the communications seem to be conflicting," Sullins said. "Some of them said it was due to weather. Some of it said due to mechanical issue. Some of them said it was due to airport conditions, so there was a lot misinformation.”
Sullins said the communication after the airport officially closed was "stellar." He said that even though his flight on Monday was canceled, the airport is still his go-to.
“This is always my airport of choice, so while this week was an inconvenience and I’m flying actually next week, I still won’t change my opinion for flying out of Columbia," he said.
In a press release, Columbia Interim City Manager John Glascock addressed the reopening of the airport.
"I am pleased to announce that runway 13-31 at COU opened today ahead of schedule. I want to again apologize to our customers who were impacted by this temporarity closure," he said.