Airport Commission meets to discuss privatization process

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – The mayor-elect of St. Louis is open to exploring the possibility putting St. Louis-Lambert International Airport under private management.

The St. Louis Airport Commission met Wednesday for the first time since Mayor Francis Slay proposed privatizing the airport. Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson sits on the commission.

“It’s something that we need to go down the road on a little bit. I don’t know a lot about the process of doing that, but I think it is an option,” Krewson said. “Other airports in the country have looked at it and so far, no one except for Puerto Rico has actually done that; but you know, we shouldn't kick every idea to the curb before we explore it.”

The city has made an application to the Federal Aviation Administration. Under the plan, the City of St. Louis would retain ownership of St. Louis-Lambert, but a private company would lease the airport and operate it. Slay, who also sits on the airport commission, did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. He’s said in the past that the move could free up millions of dollars more from the airport and that the money from a private operator could be used for needs beyond St. Louis-Lambert.

Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge told the commission how the privatization process would work, but the issue was not on Wednesday’s agenda and not voted on at the meeting.

It could take well over a year to make the change at St. Louis-Lambert. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen, the airlines, and the FAA would have to sign off on the plan.