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November 21, 2011

Primary Runway Reconstruction at St. Louis Downtown Airport Complete, and Can Now Handle Larger Aircraft

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For the past several years, the St. Louis Downtown Airport has been planning for expansion. On November 11, the fruits of that labor flew in from Florida carrying the Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League in a Boeing 737, the first large aircraft to land at the airport. Today, Metro held a news conference to announce the completion of the airport runway reconstruction project and its impact for the airport and the region.  Participants included U.S. Representative Jerry Costello (D-12th District Illinois), Susan Shea, the Director of the Division of Aeronautics for the Illinois Department of Transportation, John Nations, Metro President & CEO, and Airport Director Bob McDaniel. Watch a video of the plane landing below:

Click here to view the video.

The primary runway at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, Illinois reopened to air traffic earlier this month, following a six-month reconstruction period.  The airport can now accommodate larger aircraft like the Airbus 320, the Boeing 757, and the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80. In addition, a new high-intensity lighting system with Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIs) was installed. The cost of the improvements was nearly $7.4 million with more than $7 million provided by a U.S. Department of Transportation grant. The remainder was funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the airport.

Click here to view the slideshow.

Already the third busiest airport in Illinois, the St. Louis Downtown Airport is now generating new business and expanding its clientele by attracting larger charter and corporate planes that bring sports teams, celebrities, elected officials and business clients to St. Louis. Airport officials said the Tampa Bay Lightning and their staff loved the airport’s quick deboarding and proximity to downtown St. Louis. That’s great news for the 26 aviation businesses surrounding the airport that employ 1,900 full time workers and combined create St. Clair County’s largest private sector employer.

Economic Development

3 thoughts on “Primary Runway Reconstruction at St. Louis Downtown Airport Complete, and Can Now Handle Larger Aircraft”

  1. Jimmy Z says:

    Cranky old guy time – why in the h@!! are we spending money on a better runway here when both Lambert and Mid-America have oodles of excess capacity?! It’s stuff like this that makes voters hate the people we elect . . . .

    1. Courtney says:

      Jimmy, St. Louis Downtown Airport handles private aircraft: business, sports teams, celebrities, etc. Most of the businesses at the airport cater to that clientele as well, so its a different experience than Lambert or Mid-America, and desired as such. Also, its proximity to downtown (5 min) is considered a major draw, in addition to its aircraft customizing, aviation college, and small aircraft capacity not allowed at the larger airports.

  2. RTBones says:

    Jimmy – as an aviator, I can tell you that the reason the airport got updated was location. Having a decent sized airport that close to a city core is rare. Courtney is spot on. While Lambert and Mid America both have excess capacity, they are a little ways out of the city. If you are a sports team, you’d like to be as close to your hotel and your venue as possible. Lambert and Mid America are not. Celebrities, government officials, and business people are the same way – they’d like to get in, do their business, and get out. Lambert and Mid America don’t offer that. Think Reagan National in Washington DC – the same principle applies.

    Also remember that Metro’s prime directive is not public transit – its economic development. Downtown has done well, but was hindered by runway size – they couldn’t take larger aircraft. That has changed now, and should help the region as a whole.

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