New director named for Lambert
By Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis – Mayor Francis Slay has picked the person he wants to lead Lambert St. Louis International Airport when its current director retires in January.
Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge is no stranger to Lambert. She was the vice president of TWA's North American operations when the airline was headquartered at Lambert, and then became the managing director of American Airlines' St. Louis operation. While with TWA, she was responsible for 100 airports, and found Lambert to be one of the best-run facilities.
"It is an airport that has historically worked very well between the port authority and the air carriers and that's a big plus if you're an air carrier looking to come in," she said.
The top priority, Hamm-Niebruegge said, remains attracting airlines to Lambert to fill in American Airlines routes that are on the chopping block. She plans to continue a marketing campaign that waives some fees for airlines that are opening new routes, and also plans to get the business community more involved in selling Lambert's positives to airlines and to out-of-state businesses.
Hamm-Niebruegge got high marks from outgoing director Dick Hrabko, said Mayor Slay. When he interviewed her, he saw no need to do a national search.
"I see Rhonda as somebody who has the best of both worlds," he said. "She has experience from the airline industry standpoint, as well as somebody who understands and knows Lambert very well, knows its strengths and its weaknesses from an operational standpoint, and from a functional standpoint."
Hamm-Niebruegge also had the support of business officials, the regional Labor Council, and St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley, Slay said.