airport privatization | St. Louis Public Radio

airport privatization

After many delays, the city's contract with consultants to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport may be official soon.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

A group working with FLY 314, the non-profit overseeing the possible lease of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, plans to knock on 100,000 doors to survey city residents about the airport.

The goal is to get 20,000 residents, representing all of the city’s wards, to answer a 23-question survey. The questions have not been made public, but there is an interactive map indicating where canvassers have been and how many doors they have knocked on in each ward.

STL Not for Sale, grassroots group hold press conference at City Hall Sept. 13, 2018
photo credit | Melody Walker

A grassroots group called STL Not For Sale is criticizing an outreach campaign conducted by a team exploring privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The group held a press conference Thursday on the steps of City Hall to protest what it says is a push for privatization. Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward, said she learned about the door-to-door effort from her constituents.

Melody Walker, St. Louis Public Radio’s economic development reporter, offered analysis of the ongoing airport-privatization effort on Monday’s talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

With the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport still “up in the air,” as host Don Marsh put it on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Melody Walker joined the show to offer analysis of the latest developments.

“Privatization is one of the most polarizing words I think we’ve had in quite a while here in St. Louis, and it’s a little bit of a misnomer,” said Walker, who is the station’s economic development reporter. “I think when people hear ‘privatization,’ we think, ‘We’re going to sell the airport off to some private company.’ Well, that’s not what’s happening.”

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The city’s Airport Advisory Working Group met for the first time Tuesday with a cadre of legal, financial and aviation experts. Together they will prepare to seek and review bids from private investors vying for a lease to manage operations at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The Lindbergh Conference Room overlooking the airport runways was the setting for a two-hour presentation by the outside experts. They laid out an 18-month timeline for hammering out the details of a potential public-private partnership for Lambert.

After many delays, the city's contract with consultants to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport may be official soon.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Francis Slay, just weeks before leaving office as mayor in April of last year, initiated the process that could lead to the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

In June of this year, Slay was hired by Ferrovial Airports, a Madrid-based company with extensive experience in managing airports in Europe, and considered one of three top contenders in the bidding process for Lambert.

Commerical planes parked at a St. Louis Lambert International Airport terminal.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport

The Advisor Team hired by the city of St. Louis to explore the privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport takes off next week, with its first official meeting on July 11.

The request for proposals, review and approval process is expected to take 18 to 24 months. The process has already been delayed by political maneuvers on the committee to select the advisors and it’s likely to hit more turbulence in the months ahead.

lambert300.jpg
St. Louis Lambert International Airport

The vote over a contract to start looking into whether the city will privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport has been postponed.

The contract to hire a three-organization team was first approved by a city selection committee back in January. That committee approved an amended contract on Wednesday, but the Board of Estimate and Apportionment held off giving its final approval after a lengthy meeting Wednesday afternoon.

A fire rages out of control in a warehouse after walls collapsed during a five-alarm fire in St. Louis last Wednesday. Nearly 200 St. Louis firefighters battled the warehouse containing numerous paper products and nearly 200,000 candles.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis voters will decide this summer whether the city should borrow about $50 million to buy new fire equipment, upgrade electrical panels at City Hall, install permanent air conditioning at the city jail known as the Workhouse, and other projects.

Aldermen sent the bond issue to Mayor Lyda Krewson on Friday. Her signature will place the borrowing on the August ballot, when it will require a two-thirds majority to pass. The bond issue will not increase taxes.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Michael R. Allen | Flickr

A few more details are emerging related to the city's consideration of whether to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Urban Issues held a hearing in Clayton on Wednesday regarding airport privatization. Linda Martinez, who is Mayor Lyda Krewson’s deputy mayor of development, and airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebrugge took questions from the committee.