Airport Director Richard Harbko says in the wake of American Airlines announcement to drop flights at Lambert International a number of other airlines have said they are willing to talk about expanding. Harbko says his team is having talks with at least 6 different airlines. He wouldn't say which ones only that they could be airlines currently serving the airport of new ones looking to fly to St. Louis. To further encourage the airlines to expand the Airport Commission approved an incentive program to assist them with start up costs. The plan has 6 key points, and if an airline meets any of them it qualifies for the program.
1. Airline does not currently fly to Lambert
2. Airline plans to add a fly to somewhere no other plane from Lambert travels
3. Airline adds a new destination that airline does not currently fly
4. Airline adds a new destination via a bidirectional direct flight
5. Airline adds a new transoceanic flight
6. Airline adds a new seasonal destination
The program isn't new, it is just being expanded. Following today's commission vote airport officials will be able to offer the airlines about 1.6 million dollars to cover start up costs. Harbko did say that some airlines are interested in adding flights to cities like Nashville, San Diego and San Francisco because those flights traditional do very well out of Lambert (80 percent passenger load). If an airline accepts the money it must make a two year commitment to fly in and out of Lambert.
There was some bad news announced today. The Director says there will be no more overtime for employees; extremely limited business travel, a hiring freeze and 50 vacant positions will not be filled.