Airport Advisory Determine Future Plans After Election Results

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COLUMBIA - The future of free parking at the Columbia Regional Airport was on the table Wednesday as Airport Advisory Board members met to determine the best way to fund future terminal improvements.

Board members discussed the attractiveness of free parking for passengers, luring them away from flights in St. Louis or Kansas City. The possibility of some combination of free and charged parking was one possible option.

Executive Vice President Kristi Ray of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce also attended the meeting to review its report on expanding the terminal. Ray said it would cost about $45 million to build a new terminal. Ray said research from other airport market sizes determined this figure.

Airport Advisory Board chairman Greg Cecil said the date for the closing of the air traffic control tower will not change. Cecil said it will stop operating on May 5 at midnight.

The board also voted to continue having 13 members appointed. This decision comes after the results of Tuesday's city elections. Cecil said two board member spots are open and the newly-elected members will appoint them.

"We just thought 13 would be a good number and it seems to work well for us right now," Cecil said.

Ray said the chamber of commerce will meet Friday to decide how much money it will allocate to these changes.

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