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Published on April 16th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


What’s Next For Columbia Metropolitan Airport

By Connor Watkins

There are a lot of big things happening the Columbia Metropolitan Airport that will be making a large economic impact. At this month’s breakfast for The Greater Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center, Mike Gula, executive director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport gave an update on things happening at the airport. In 2018, traffic from CAE increased by 11 percent with over 60,000 more seats for sale than 2017. Both American Airlines and Delta upgraded from regional jets to mainline aircraft last year, creating more seats on their flights. Via Air joined CAE in December with direct flights to Sanford and in May 2019, American Airlines will be offering direct, non-stop daily flights to LaGuardia airport in New York.

The project with the largest economic impact is probably the airport connector, or the John Hardee Expressway, which would give the airport direct interstate access making travel and the transfer of goods a much more streamlined process. The first phase of the John Hardee Expressway was completed in 2004 and cost approximately $24.6 million. The next phase is projected to cost around $110 million of which $81.3 million still needs to be funded.

Gula spoke about several economic development projects in the pipeline including an airline academy, a recycling center, and even a mid- to upscale hotel. The airport is also in the process of talking to some low cost carriers that could offer even more option to Midlands travelers. However, Gula also informed that a recent leakage study showed that CAE was losing 51 percent of travelers to Charlotte, so he encouraged the room to support our local airport. After all, nothing beats the convenience of home.

This breakfast was sponsored by Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative.

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