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Columbia leaders ‘optimistic’ about securing $40 million for airport terminal

The city of Columbia began collecting 1 percent more in hotel taxes on Jan. 1 after voters approved it in August, 2016.

The tax is expected to bring in about $10 million in revenue over several years and, if approved, the Federal Aviation Administration would provide up to $20 million for an approximately $40 million terminal expansion project.

Community relations director Steve Sapp said Thursday that city officials are also working with state officials on a $10 million appropriation, but there has been no commitment on that from legislators, although Sapp said lawmakers seem supportive of the terminal expansion.

The city’s consultant on the terminal project will also be finishing up a final report in the next few months, which will again be presented to the FAA.

Sapp said that United Airlines entering the market helps a great deal in decision making at the state and federal levels when it comes to financial appropriations.

There have been monthly record deplanements and enplanements at the Columbia Regional Airport so far in 2017. According to Sapp, there were more than 10,000 arrivals and departures. ABC17 News is working on getting the official numbers.

The United Airlines flights will make things tight at the terminal, so Sapp said airport officials are working on digital signage for the terminal. TSA also plans to add additional staff and equipment.

In a public meeting Wednesday of Regional Economic Development Inc., city manager Mike Matthes said American Airlines officials are confident taht the airline will remain in Columbia despite new competition from United.

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