City says it will cost half a million for COU runway repairs

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Regional Airport resumed general aviation and passenger service on Monday, following a week-long shutdown. But the question of who will pay for runway modifications remains uncertain.

City spokesperson Steven Sapp said the construction will cost an estimated $400,000 - $500,000. It will take several weeks to know out the final figure, he said.

“Normally the Federal Aviation Administration will match up to 90 percent of the cost for infrastructure improvements on the airfield side, which include runways, taxiways and aprons,” he said.

The FAA has indicated it's willing to look at it.

“If we receive a request from the airport, we will consider the use of FAA grant money for the runway costs,” FAA regional spokesperson Tony Molinaro said.

If the FAA does not cover the entire portion of the bill, the City will have to look elsewhere.

“We do have other funding sources available,” Sapp said. “The other options we have come from the transportation side of a sales tax, we have reserve funds and we have project funds for projects that we have completed but have not closed down.”

American Airlines will start flights into and out of the airport on Tuesday. United Airlines was to set to resume service on Monday, but all flights were canceled due to the weather conditions in Chicago.

Venkatasubramanian Veluchamy, his wife and their 3-year-old son were scheduled to travel to India Monday from COU, but never got the word flights had been cancelled because of runway construction.

“American Airlines took care of a hotel for my family and booked new flights,” he said. “The only inconvenient thing is a one-day delay.”

Veluchamy said his family plans to make their 26-hour trip with three connecting flights on Tuesday.

The airport closed on April 8, after airlines raised safety concerns about an area of the second runway was creating significant bumps on takeoff and landing. The main runway has been closed for renovations.

Anyone with questions can attend a public meeting about the Columbia Regional Airport on Thursday, April 18 from 8-9 a.m. at the Walton Building.