Jefferson City Council Approves $100,000 to Columbia Regional Airport

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JEFFERSON CITY - Less than an hour after a public plea and special appearance from Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid, the Jefferson City Council voted Monday to pledge $100,000 to Columbia Regional Airport and provide a boost in McDavid's quest to bring another airline to mid-Missouri.

With a vote of 9-1, the council will offer a "token" fund to the airport, city manager Nathan Nickolaus said. Columbia already secured a deal with Frontier Airlines for flights to and from Orlando starting in November, but it announced this month it needs $3 million in an effort to attract another airline to major cities like Dallas and Chicago.

McDavid told KOMU 8 News on Monday those negotiations are "substantive" and "very active," but the city has not reached a deal yet.

"You don't have a deal until you have a deal," McDavid said. "It's just the way negotiations go."

McDavid and the supporting council members cited the potential economic boom for Jefferson City with an arrival of a new airline. In a short address to the council at the beginning of the 6 p.m. meeting - an hour before his own meeting in Columbia started - McDavid told the council he views the $100,000 as a "backstop" for drawing an airline.

Before the vote, one audience member with experience in the airline industry spent more than the allotted five minutes fighting against the funding. Herman Lueckenotte told KOMU 8 News he wants to open his own airline in Jefferson City, and he argued against using taxpayer money from Jefferson City residents for the fund.

"Every place I go and everybody I talk to in Jefferson City is against this funding," Lueckenotte said.