COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Officials in central Missouri thought a $3 million revenue guarantee to American Airlines would be their ticket to expanded service at a regional airport serving both the state capital of Jefferson City and a flagship public university in Columbia.
Instead, the guarantee backfired when Delta Airlines said it was ending service at Columbia Regional Airport just months after adding flights to and from its Atlanta hub. The carrier said it could no longer operate in Columbia at a competitive disadvantage.
The airline courtship and subsequent break-up is a familiar one to elected officials and business brokers from northern California to the Florida Keys. Airlines are increasingly insisting on local government subsidies before they will expand service to airports in smaller cities and rural areas.