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Mid-Missouri groups stand behind helping United Airlines

Some public agencies in mid-Missouri spending to bring United Airlines to Columbia are standing behind their investment.

Videos of a man being dragged off a Untied flight Sunday, leaving him bloodied, circulated social media. The airline overbooked a flight from Chicago to Louisville, and asked people to voluntarily give up their seats in exchange for money. When not enough people took them up on the offer, the company randomly selected four people and ordered them off, including the man seen in the videos screaming as officers pulled him his seat.

“When we approached one of these passengers to explain apologetically that he was being denied boarding, he raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions,” Munoz wrote in a memo to employees on Monday, according to ABC News. “He was approached a few more times after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft, and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent. Our agents were left with no choice but to call Chicago Aviation Security Officers to assist in removing the customer from the flight.”

United Airlines will begin service at Columbia Regional Airport on Aug. 1, offering flights to and from Chicago and Denver. It will be just the second airline to work out of COU, joining American Airlines.

To bring United in, the Columbia City Council guaranteed $600,000 to the company in its first year at the airport. The city will also advertise the new route for United, an estimated cost of $250,000. City spokesman Steve Sapp said they will meet with Clear Vision, the ad agency handling the United ads, this week.

For previous reporting on the revenue guarantee, you can click here.

Sapp said the Chicago situation did not dissuade the city in its business with United Airlines. He said while investigators there determined what happened, he did not want to give a “knee jerk reaction” to it.

Several other local governments either have or plan on contributing to the air service guarantee. Jefferson City leaders approved $100,000 for the agreement, while Boone and Cole counties are slated to give $50,000 each to it. Boone County commissioners will vote Tuesday morning on its share. None of the commissioners responded to ABC 17 News’ request for comment.

MU spokesman Christian Basi told ABC 17 News the school remained committed to its part of the guarantee. It will dedicate $100,000 for the fund.

“A strong airport is a key factor for our researchers, entrepreneurs and students,” Basi said. “We will continue to support the development of the airport.”

The city is also waiving rent for United to use the terminal space, as well as landing fees for the Denver flight. United plans to offer a 50-passenger flight to Denver daily that leaves at 6 a.m., and one that lands in Columbia from Denver at 10:49 p.m.

New data from the city shows a 24 percent increase in ridership at the airport. For the first quarter of 2017, 17,491 people arrived at Columbia Regional Airport, while 17,446 people departed from mid-Missouri. Numbers from that same time in 2016 show 14,215 arrivals and 13,987 departures.

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