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STL airport proposes dropping Terminal 2, holds public meetings

One option in the STL master plan would put all airlines in an expanded Terminal 1 with 62 gates.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Lambert International Airport officials are asking for public input to discuss future plans, including the possibility of eliminating Terminal 2.

The master plan discussion could mean all airlines would operate out of an updated Terminal 1, with dozens of gates.

“For the way aviation is being addressed for future travelers is really a unified terminal,” said airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “Being able to have one security checkpoint, one baggage system, larger concourses where you have more food and beverage opportunities for retail.”

A draft plan, unveiled in January, suggests eventually repurposing Terminal 2, which is near capacity and home to Southwest, Lambert's busiest airline with about 100 flights a day.

One option the airport's layout plan calls for is to move all traffic to an updated Terminal 1 with 62 gates. Funding for design and construction has not been announced.

The master plan itself is a requirement of the airport to continue to receive FAA funding, and it would take approximately 10 years to complete if approved. The plan requires public input.

Rose Wesolowski of Spanish Lake came to a Thursday night input meeting because she said she wants to see the airport return to its glory days.

“This is one of my favorite places to hang out,” smiled Wesolowsky. ”I love the airport. I really do.”

The airport’s master plan is a comprehensive study that usually looks at the short, medium, and long-term development plans to meet future aviation demand. The plan suggests the terminal is seeing a growth in passengers, aging facilities, inadequate concessions, and insufficient revenue opportunities, like parking.

“We're coming out of the pandemic really strong,” said Hamm-Niebruegge. “We anticipate this year being somewhere between 85 and 90 percent of our 2019 number. And next year, we think we'll exceed that.”

Hamm-Niebruegge told a crowd Thursday that not only are travelers jetting off to places, cargo flights, including the transport of live animals, are also increasing and driving move revenue to the area.

Many residents said they can agree with improving the airport, they just want to be a part of the process.

“I'm in North County and we want to make sure everyone has the adequate information,” said Frederick Johnson. “We need to make sure everyone is included in the plan, make sure we are a top-notch airport.”

The plan might also suggest relocating a portion of I-70 as of right now, as key issues were identified in the report regarding traffic – insufficient decision distance from the highway, signage overload, and an inadequate number of arrival curb lanes to name a few.

Still, airport officials say these are only plans, and reiterated at the meeting that these are not set in stone. The plan itself took two years to create and could take 10 years to see to complete, once approved.

The plan would also not require city or local tax dollars. It would be paid with things like FAA grants, airport bonds, and existing user fees.

To give your input, you can visit flystl.com.

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