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Council Passes Airline Agreement

Columbia City Council approved four agreements with American Airlines.The agreements include a revenue guarantee if the airline comes up short one month. It’s a deal that promises the airline $3 million over two years. The city is guaranteeing about $1.8 million of that. The revenue will be calculated on a monthly basis.City leaders said they do no want this to become a subsidy for the airline, but if it does, they will have to start looking at all their options.American Airlines is expected to start nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago beginning in February.City leaders believe the flights to Chicago and Dallas will be near full. They say as long as that remains true, the guaranteed money may not have to be used at all.”If it comes to subsidies, then we’ve mischaracterized the market and we’ll have to consider all options,” said Mayor Bob McDavid. “I think the market is clearly there according to our studies.”This comes only a few days after the only other current airline flying out of Columbia Regional Airport, Delta, wrote a letter to Mayor Bob McDavid stating the revenue guarantee creates a disadvantage in the market and they can no longer continue service.City leaders tell ABC 17 News they will be talking to Delta on Wednesday about those concerns. McDavid says the city understands they are low on the pecking order, but the flights are near full and Delta should not be upset about that.McDavid would not comment on if the city will offer Delta a similar package to what American received, but he did say this is not a one-way street. He says the airport does not have flights out to the west, has little service to high demand places like Chicago, and having only one chance of making connections through Atlanta makes it difficult to travel to some places.Frontier Airlines recently announced it will begin flying nonstop to Orlando, Fl. in November.

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