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Lambert airport to take on up to $150M in additional debt

The additional debt would help fund a portion of the St. Louis airport's capital improvement plan for 2023 and 2024.
Credit: frank peters - stock.adobe.com

ST. LOUIS — Lambert airport's governing body on Wednesday took steps toward taking on $150 million in additional debt for capital projects at the facility.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport officials said Wednesday at a meeting of the Airport Commission that the bond issuance would help fund a portion of the airport's capital improvement plan for fiscal 2023 and 2024, with projects estimated to cost $130 million.

One project is a $60 million redevelopment of the baggage claim in Terminal 2, home to Lambert's largest airline, Southwest, officials said. A Lambert spokesman said other capital projects, totaling some $70 million, would go before the Airport Commission at its December meeting.

Commissioners voted to allow the issuance of the bonds, likely to be sold in January and be paid back over 30 years, with average annual debt service of $6.9 million and total debt service of $209.6 million.

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One commissioner, Regional Business Council President and CEO Kathy Osborn, asked whether the targeted projects were "synergistic" with a long-range, $3 billion plan to build a new terminal at Lambert that could open in the early 2030s.

"You wouldn't want to put a pipeline in some places that later you'd have to take it out of there because you're trying to do the airport terminal project," Osborn said.

Lambert's deputy director, Gerald Beckmann, responded that the capital projects are "about operational needs at the airport to maintain us as a going concern."

"There's a focus that these are things that, by and large, wouldn't be supplanted in the near future..." he said.

Lambert has about $450 million in debt, tied to the infamous W-1W runway project. It is serviced from fees paid by Lambert's tenant airlines and others.

At the meeting Wednesday, officials shared information showing that the vast majority of Lambert's debt would be paid off in about 10 years, even with the new bond issuance.

Click here to read the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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