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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Regional Airport has seen growth in the number of passengers on flights in and out.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the airport announced its first quarter numbers for 2017 were 24 percent higher than the same period last year.

The increased number not only affects the airport, but impacts the entire economy of Columbia.

"Columbia Regional Airport serves as a catalyst for economic development throughout mid-Missouri," Economic Development Director Stacey Button said in the press release.

While businesses are benefiting from the increase in passengers, Airport Director Mike Parks said, they are also one of the reasons it.

"We have a lot of support from the businesses in central Missouri," said Parks. "Those increased numbers are also in part because we have a successful and great relation with everybody in the area."

In the first quarter, the airport saw a total of 17,491 arrivals, up more than 3,200 from last year.

In the past year, American Airlines has been sending larger planes to Columbia, with more seats for passengers.

The airline is adding flights to Denver and additional flights to Chicago beginning Aug. 1.

The airport still has several upcoming infrastructure updates, including the completion of its crosswind runway, which is scheduled to be finished by the end of this summer.