A Missouri Air National Guard facility that has been vacant since 2009 is getting a new life, thanks to a company that's hoping to capitalize on the growing demand for general aviation traffic at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Charter flight provider JetLinx announced today that it will spend about $1 million to convert one of the buildings into a terminal for its clients. It will be the only general aviation company at Lambert with its own fleet of planes, which is expected to start operating in September.
The demand for the services is there, said Keith Harbison, the CEO and president of Harbison Corporation and one of three partners in JetLinx St. Louis. While private travel can be more expensive for businesses, it's often more convenient.
"If you're going from here to Hazelton, Pa., for example, you have to fly into at least one other city. You have lots of different moving parts that can go wrong," he said. "You have to be here well in advance, you have to then catch connecting flights. Whereas with JetLinx, you’ll be able to come out here, walk on the plane and take off five minutes later and go directly to your end destination."
JetLinx has signed a 10-year lease on the property, and Harbison says the company expects to generate $1 million in new tax revenue a year. He says the company did not seek any tax incentives for the St. Louis expansion, which is its ninth location.
Airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge called the announcement a great example of the partnerships that are going to be required to keep Lambert viable as an airport.
"This idea was not ours," she said. "It came to us from the business community who saw a potential and an opportunity. And we welcome that, because I think if you can put our minds together along with your minds out there, we can continue to find opportunities here at Lambert that work."
JetLinx expects to hire about 100 people.
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