United Airlines will begin service from Columbia Regional airport with flights to Denver and Chicago, Columbia mayor Brian Treece announced on Monday.
United’s website had begun offering flights to both destinations at least as early as Saturday.
American Airlines is currently the only airline that flies out of Columbia, offering flights to Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth. For now, the Chicago route would be the only route on which United and American compete.
Travelers can book flights to Chicago starting Aug. 1 and Denver starting Aug. 2 on the United Airlines website or mobile app.
The push into Columbia is part of an expansion into 31 new destinations across the world planned for this summer by United. Columbia is one of four new domestic destinations for the airline, along with Champaign/Urbana, Illinois; Rochester, Minnesota and Santa Rosa, California.
The announcement comes after American started using larger planes on the Columbia to Dallas/Fort Worth route earlier this month.
“Denver is one of the top requested destinations by travelers from Columbia,” Treece said.
United’s entry into the Columbia airport will be subject to a vote by the Columbia City Council on March 20, he said.
The airline is planning to fly once a day to Denver and twice a day to Chicago, according to Treece.
The connection to Denver provides an opportunity for people from the western U.S. to visit and explore mid-Missouri, he said. The new flights will start before the total solar eclipse, visible from the Columbia area, on Aug. 21, Treece said.
Update: Feb. 27 at 1:45 p.m.
This story was updated to include additional information from the mayor’s press conference.