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St. Louis' inaugural Frankfurt flight is Wednesday. Here's why it will be out of Terminal 2, not Terminal 1.

"We didn't want to put another departure in Terminal 2," which is near capacity, Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said. "But we didn't have a choice."

ST. LOUIS — Those familiar with St. Louis Lambert International Airport could be forgiven for assuming its new Frankfurt, Germany, flight, which starts Wednesday, would depart from Terminal 1.

That facility, after all, has plenty of excess space, even if its leader calls much of it obsolete.

The screening center for U.S. Customs and Border Protection is at Terminal 2, however.

"We don't have an international area in Terminal 1," Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said recently. "And the one that we closed over 20 years ago, even if you tried to upgrade it, it wouldn't meet today's standards. CBP wouldn't work in there."

The result, Hamm-Niebruegge said, was that Lufthansa, the carrier operating the Frankfurt flight, told airport officials it couldn't keep its gate in Terminal 1.

"We didn't want to put another departure in Terminal 2," which is near capacity with Southwest Airlines, Lambert's largest carrier, she said. "But we didn't have a choice."

That anecdote was one of many Hamm-Niebruegge cited in pitching a $3 billion overhaul of Lambert, which would involve consolidation to a single, 62-gate terminal with a single baggage area and Transportation Security Administration checkpoint. Airport officials also say it would involve construction of a new parking garage, doubling the number of close-in spaces, plus the improvement of roadway access.

Officials with the city of St. Louis, which owns and operates Lambert, haven't yet unveiled a financing plan for the project, which could see construction begin four years from now, and take another five or six years.

The Lufthansa flight, operating three days a week with help from a $2.5 million pledge from local businesses, is to arrive in St. Louis from Frankfurt at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, with a group of some 30 St. Louisans among those then departing for Germany at 3:45 p.m.

Click here for the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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