Airport Advisory Board meets for first time since COU closure

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COLUMBIA - The city's Airport Advisory Board met Wednesday for the first time since Columbia Regional Airport had to close for repairs. 

The board discussed training and improvements to COU's website before mentioning the airport's closure

COU closed to fix its backup runway while the main runway is under construction. The airport received complaints from pilots about a bump in that runway, causing rough takeoffs and landings.

That bump was at the intersection of the two runways and is used to drain water. 

At the meeting Wednesday, airport officials told board members the work on the crown was complete and would not need to be redone once the main runway's work is done. 

One board member said he appreciated how the airport and city of Columbia's handled the situation. 

"Even though this was a setback for the airport, if you look at how it was handled and what happened due to the situation, the city really responded in an amazing way," Matt Jenne said. 

The airport was reopened in six days. Jenne said he was impressed with how quickly the airport reopened, especially after undergoing such important repairs. 

"They actually had to do major construction and it wasn’t just flip a switch or rewriting a paper, they had to have trucks and construction equipment on site and they got that out there the next day and were back up and running in less than a week," Jenne said. 

At the meeting, Jenne and one other board member moved to acknowledge the airport staff and officials for their response to the issue and getting it resolved. 

"They were able to take a situation that really looked dire, honestly, on Saturday, and turned it into something that we were back up in operations within a week," he said. "I think that it was important for me and some of the other people on the board to make sure that was acknowledged commend them for the efforts that they did."

COU airport manager Mike Parks said what that acknowledgement meant to him.

"On behalf of the airport, we appreciate the support. We’ve got a great advisory board, we appreciate their comments and we always look forward to any advisement they can provide for the airport itself and the continued growth," Parks said. 

Parks said in the meeting the bump on the crown had been there since the 1960s but was not a problem for pilots until they had to start using it every day. 

The backup runway is completely open and the board expects the main runway to be finished by the end of June. 

The board will look forward to its upcoming projects. 

It plans to use old concrete from the main runway and put it toward adding 200 parking spots at the airport's parking lot this summer. 

The airport will also soon be taking bids to move Route H, which will allow it to extend the main runway.