Plans Underway For Columbia Regional Airport
Trans States Airlines announced it's leaving five mid-Missouri cities, including Columbia. But, not everyone is upset about it. One local man has plans for a new and improved airline.
Herman Lueckenotte, a pilot, former airport manager and now bus driver, has been dreaming of Missouri Sky for 20 years. He thinks now is the time to make his dream airline a reality.
"We would provide frequent service rather than just two or three flights a day," he said.
Lueckenotte wants to provide frequent flights from both Jefferson City and Columbia airports to St. Louis and Kansas City. He also wants to have the flights connect to all airlines, not just American Airlines, which was previously the case.
"The fare would be the same whether you connect to one airline, whether it's Southwest, whether it's United, Frontier, or American," Lueckenotte said.
He also wants Missouri Sky, the name of his proposed airline, to be more comfortable. Each plane would seat only 19 passengers instead of 30. That means only two seats to a row. Lueckenotte said the planes would have better luggage storage and air conditioning. One thing the new planes wouldn't have is restrooms. Lueckenotte's dream doesn't come cheap.
"It only takes about $5 million to run this thing for about four or five years and that's based on starting out with one two or three people on a flight," he said.
Right now Lueckenotte is working on getting local funding for his airline but isn't sure if and when his plans will get off the ground. KOMU tried to contact the mayor, the city manager and the airport manager to get their comments. They either declined to comment or didn't return phone calls.
This isn't the only plan being pitched for Columbia Regional Airport. Today Regions-Air announced it is contacting five midwestern destinations, including Columbia, about replacing the flights they're losing. A spokesman for Regions-Air said it is too early to determine what kind of flights, if any, would be offered. Columbia's current carrier, Trans State, will stop flying out of the airport in June.