Delta Airlines Threatens to Leave Columbia Regional Airport

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COLUMBIA - Delta Air Lines sent a letter to Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid on Wednesday saying it will no longer service Columbia Regional Airport if the city does not match the tax incentive that's part of the potential American Airlines deal.  

The letter from Senior Vice President of Network Planning Robert J. Cortelyou stated that "our hope is...that you will recognize the investment that Delta has made in the Columbia community and strongly consider a similar package of compensation and incentives for Delta." It said without a similar deal "Delta will be forced to exit the Columbia market."

City Council member Michael Trapp said that city will hold a telephone meeting with Delta on Wednesday to discuss new opportunities for the airline in Columbia.  The council will meet with American Airlines on Monday in hopes of finalizing the new deal, though it has cancelled the news conference that was to follow that meeting.

The city of Columbia began negotiations with American Airlines at the beginning of October.  It proposed a $3 million revenue guarantee for AA if it brought its services to Columbia.  The tentative agreement would add flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago.  

Cortelyou said such a guarantee "puts Delta at a severe disadvantage" which is "unacceptable."

Delta Spokesperson Anthony Black said that Delta has no problem competing with American Airlines in the Mid-Missouri market as long as they are brought in on an "equal playing field." He said that Delta wants to compete on the airlines' features and destination options, not tax incentives.