Airport subsidy largely hasn’t been used

Cole County and Jefferson City officials are pleased that money they pledged to help bring in American Airlines to Columbia Regional Airport has hardly been tapped because the airline has been meeting its revenue targets.

The airline, which flies to Chicago and Dallas, has been running around 85 percent capacity through the first weeks of April.

The city of Columbia joined with Cole County and Jefferson City, as well as Boone County, the University of Missouri and other private investors such as Central Bank and Hawthorn Bank, to form a two-year, $3 million revenue guarantee fund.

Jefferson City and Cole County put in $100,000 each to the fund.

“We want the airline to be successful,” said Jefferson City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus. “Their success is good for our area. From what we are told, their flights are full.”

The fund guarantees that an airline will make a minimum profit for providing passenger service.

After flights began, American was paid more than $22,500 from the fund, but nothing has been taken out since.

“We’re glad to see it’s being utilized,” said Cole County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger, who was interviewed while waiting to catch a flight at the Columbia airport. “We are thrilled we have a full-term airline. So far, we’re not out a dime.

“The only payment we had to make was last month, and the interest earned on the funds was more than the payment we made. So right now, we’ve got more money in the bank than when we started this. This will be a major economic development tool for our area.”

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