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Columbia Regional Airport terminal on track despite coronavirus pandemic

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A member of Columbia's Airport Advisory Board said Wednesday that construction of a new airport terminal is on track.

Matt Jenne said the new terminal is set to be added to Columbia Regional Airport in the summer of 2022. Jenne said the goal is to get the airport back to where it was before the pandemic, and getting more flights to serve Columbia is part of that.

The board met Wednesday afternoon to discuss progress on the project.

The airport broke ground on the new terminal in November with plans to complete the addition in summer 2022 with daily flights to Denver, Chicago, Dallas and Charlotte.

Mitchell Fuemmeler, senior project manager, said they have begun the project and are doing everything they can to stay productive while there is still work going on around them for other projects.

Fuemmeler said the the project will start to rapidly increase in productivity this summer and in the fall steel will be in place for the terminal.

"Most of our process was designed through Covid and we've been able to do that all virtually and still keep track," said Fuemmeler.

The terminal is part of a $20 million airport improvement project. The terminal project has been partially funded with a 1% tax on hotel rooms passed by voters in August 2016.

"The lodging tax is still going to be one of the mechanisms to help fund the add-on," Jenne said. He said the lodging industry has taken a hit through the coronavirus pandemic but the project funding is still on track.

In February 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the city an $800,000 grant to support nonstop daily American Airlines flights to Charlotte, but the flights have not been added.

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said he expects new flights when the new terminal is built. The new building will provide more space to add flights, Treece said.

Jenne said the expansion of direct flights helps recruit business and helps bring more out-of-state students to the University of Missouri. He cited Swift Foods, which plans to build a multi-million dollar plant in Columbia using millions in tax incentives.

Matt McCormick with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce said the university is a huge revenue for Columbia and with the airport expanding travel this will be a huge benefit for the region.

"A major company is looking at Columbia to move their prepared meats plant. One of the reasons they're looking at us is because there is a direct flight from their headquarters in Chicago to Columbia," Jenne said.

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.

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