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Master plan for new Lambert airport terminal receives FAA approval

An agreement hasn't been reached, but the project would bring Southwest Airlines into Terminal 1 and redo the terminal altogether.

ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has approved a master plan that could reconfigure St. Louis Lambert International Airport. 

The plan for the airport runs through 2040 and would include a massive project to reconfigure the facility with a new, single terminal instead of two, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. 

An agreement hasn't been reached, but the project would bring Southwest Airlines into Terminal 1 and redo the terminal altogether. 

Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said there are active conversations about how to use Terminal 2.

“It’s much more efficient to have a single terminal, especially for people that aren’t from St. Louis," she said. “It’s very easy to understand one terminal versus the two separate.”

The new, consolidated terminal would also add thousands of parking spots to the garage. 

Currently, Hamm-Niebruegge said there are about two thousand garage spots. This expansion would up parking to almost 8,000 garage spots.

“One of the challenges we know we have today is that your decision-making is a very short window, especially if you’re coming into terminal 2," Hamm-Niebruegge said.

The new terminal would mean you would walk right into a consolidated checkpoint area, too.

“Much more efficient than traversing two levels like we have today," Hamm-Niebruegge said.

The terminal would also bring 60% more concession and retail spaces. She said the airport is currently out of space for the restaurant and retail venues it needs and would like to add.

“It’s a great opportunity to really put us in place for decades to come,” Hamm-Niebruegge said.

Lots could change if this project is approved. But there's one thing St. Louis natives and airport users can be sure won't go away.

“We would keep the historic domes, we do have an iconic structure," Hamm-Niebruegge said. "The only thing that would remain of the new terminal is this lobby and the domes."

Airport officials have begun negotiating with Lambert's airlines, who would figure prominently in the financing of the terminal development through landing and rental fees, the St. Louis Business Journal reported. 

The plan also has to pass two separate environmental studies before anything is official.

Meanwhile, some of these sidebar projects and improvements could start next year while airline negotiations and environmental studies are pending.

Some passengers are looking forward to the consolidation. 

Dallas native Benjamin Douglas has been flying in and out of St. Louis for basic training.

“I had to go to Southwest so I’m like, where is it?" Douglas said.

Like many Southwest passengers, he's been caught up in the chaos of the terminals.

“I definitely think it would be a good idea for them to move Southwest over here with all the other ones," he said. "It is a struggle to get to the other side.”

Airports transport millions of people with millions of stories. This could be St. Louis Lambert International's next chapter.

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