Delta Air Lines announced its exit from Columbia Regional Airport after the city offered incentives to lure American Airlines to the airport, but there is still a chance the daily service to Atlanta or another destination may resume in the future.
Delta will be discontinuing service at the Columbia airport in February. However, airline spokesman Anthony Black said Wednesday that Delta still looks favorably on the mid-Missouri market, which it entered four years ago.
“Its something in a year we will look at again,” Black said. “We remain open to the market, we like it, but we just need to compete on a playing level.”
Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid said during a news conference on Nov. 6 that Delta rejected a $3 million revenue guarantee offer from the city to continue providing routes to Atlanta and Memphis. The city’s offer included a landing fee waiver for two daily flights to Atlanta starting in 2014.
The airline felt it wasn’t enough.
“Delta was unable to reach a level playing field with competition in the market,” Black said.
Delta was unaware the city even raised money to bring in another airline, Black said, adding that the airline first heard the news as media reports came in.
“They solicited an agreement with American,” Black said. “Right afterwards, we picked up the phone and told them it was giving a complete advantage to American. It’s extremely rare for a city to give another airline money while an incumbent is in the market.”
McDavid said the $3 million revenue guarantee for Delta “is a standing offer.” The mayor also said he believes Delta was planning to end the service in Columbia before the American Airlines deal was even announced.
American Airlines, which is currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings, has already confirmed plans to establish daily flights to Dallas and Chicago.