Small airports gamble with revenue guarantees

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Associated Press

Posted on November 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Central Missouri leaders thought a $3 million revenue guarantee to American Airlines would be their ticket to expanded service at a regional airport serving both the state capital and a flagship public university.

Instead, the guarantee backfired when Delta Airlines said it was ending service at Columbia Regional Airport just months after adding flights to and from its Atlanta hub. The carrier said it could no longer operate in Columbia at a competitive disadvantage.

The airline courtship and subsequent break-up is a familiar one to elected officials and business brokers from the Florida Keys to northern California. Airlines are increasingly insisting on local government subsidies before they will expand service to airports in smaller cities and rural areas.

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