Low-fare airline expanding to Columbia Airport

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A low-cost air service is coming to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the airline announced on Tuesday.

Vision Airlines will offer non-stop air service from the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to Destin/Fort Walton Beach, FL. The service is expected to begin April 1.

Flights will depart from Columbia at 12:15pm on Mondays and 8:10pm on Fridays, and from Florida at 6:05pm on Mondays and 6:05pm on Fridays.

Fares will start at an introductory rate of $49 each way if booked before January 23. After the introductory period, fares will range from $69-$199 each way.

Customers will have to pay for checked baggage, but the airline offers a $10 discount for paying baggage fees in advance.

Chief Operating Officer David Meers said he's excited to be able to offer this service. "It is our desire to continue to grow our service and route structure, and offer tremendous value to leisure travelers."

Vision Airlines officials say this is the largest expansion of a commercial airline in more than a decade.

Columbia's only commercial airport can be  a little lonely at times. The people who oversee the place say not everyone sees the perks, and they're making a plea. "Whether for vacation or business, look at Columbia first," said airport spokeswoman Lynn Douglas. "Don't always assume your going to get a better fare or schedule out of Charlotte."

This is not a new idea. Two other low-fare carriers tried a similar feat, and ended up pulling out. "I think one of the things we saw with the other carriers, their flight schedules weren't necessarily what folks found were fitting their schedules," said Douglas. "I think Vision's schedule is very good, involves weekends."

Vision says they've done their homework, and think the airport is a good fit. The airport says the key to getting off the ground is the passengers. "If we don't have people support it, it's going to go away," said Douglas.

The airport says they are starting a marketing campaign to get people to fly out of Columbia. If people do fly Vision and it does take off, they say other carriers will likely lower fares in turn, and the airport will have more leverage trying to pull in carriers like Southwest or Jet Blue.

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