By Brad Tregnago of KSSZ

Starting in August, United Airlines will run two daily flights to Chicago, and one daily roundtrip to Denver, out of the Columbia Regional Airport in mid-Missouri. The city of Columbia says United will use a 50-seat regional aircraft. Columbia Mayor Brian Treece says the airport had a record number of passengers last month, and an 85% growth in travelers since 2010.

Photo courtesy of United’s website

“This sends a clear message that there’s clear demand here and that customers will use, consumers will use, COU as their premier provider when it comes to air service,” says Treece. “We know from our passenger demand analysis that that is one of the top choices that Columbians want in terms of choices for new destinations, and so I’m confident that there’s additional market capacity to drive those flights.”

American Airlines will continue providing its Columbia service to Chicago and Dallas.

Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes says it’s too early to tell if prices will go down.

“I believe that the market is starving for more flights, so I think it’s going to be okay,” Matthes says.

Springfield television station KY3 reports that United will also provide twice-daily flights from Springfield to Houston starting in June.