St. Louis Lambert Airport: privatisation now back in play

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Only a few months ago it looked as if the ‘great white hope’ for the airport leasing programme in the U.S. had fallen through as, beset by political disagreements, a once supportive mayor pulled the rug on the project. But now a ballot has been secured by supporters of the project which could change the city charter to authorise the lease.

St Louis-Lambert International Airport is the major airport serving the city of St Louis, Missouri and is the busiest in the state. It also serves the surrounding metropolitan area, which includes much of south-eastern Illinois, and it continues to be an important transport facility in the region, with Southwest Airlines the largest operator at the airport.

In Jun-2020 supporters of leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) called for a Nov-2020 ballot measure that would change the city charter to authorise a long term public-private partnership (P3) lease of the airport. If passed by the obligatory 60% of those voting, that authorisation would require leasing the airport to private operators if they commit to at least USD1.7 billion.

But the requirement that the successful bidder should find USD1.7 billion, even over a 50-year lease, could prove to be too onerous.

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