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MidAmerica Airport set a passenger record in 2022 and could do it again this year

The passenger terminal and joint use tower on Oct. 15, 2019, at MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah.
Derik Holtmann
Belleville News-Democrat
The passenger terminal and joint-use tower in October 2019 at MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah. The airport set records for passenger travelers in 2021 and 2022.

For the past two years, MidAmerica St. Louis Airport has posted record passenger levels, and it may be on its way to doing that again this year.

“Set a record in ’21, setting another record here in ’22,” said Airport Director Bryan Johnson. “Looking at our projections and our flight schedules, it’s likely we’ll set another record here in ’23.”

More people are flying out of MidAmerica even if there aren’t as many flights as before, Johnson said. This was the case when comparing data from January 2022 and January 2023, he added.

Last year, 163,000 passengers left from MidAmerica.

“The trend we’re watching is just the load factors, and we’ve seen them grow last year, and that helped set last year’s record,” Johnson said. “We’re continuing to see that grow right now.”

Johnson said this is especially exciting since the airport in the Metro East focuses on low-cost and leisure air carriers, like Allegiant. This was a key strength for MidAmerica coming out of the pandemic when there was increased interest among people wanting to travel, he said.

It’s also something Johnson sees as an insulator against a recession.

“Leisure carriers tend to do so well during economic downturns because they’re price sensitive, the ticketing is really reasonable,” Johnson said. “It’s a nice alternative for those that are having to look a little more closely at their financial budgets.”

Success at any of the five airports around St. Louis is positive, Johnson said.

“We use it as a marker really for the local economy,” he said. “If we perform well, it’s likely our sister airports are probably doing reasonably well too, even though they serve a different niche in the market.”

Mary Lamie, St. Louis Regional Freightway executive director, agrees, adding the aviation sector plays a large role in the country’s gross domestic product.

“It’s good to see these record numbers as the aviation industry continues to stabilize post-COVID,” she said. “For the St. Louis region in particular, it means the commercial aviation industry is finding success with new opportunities that support reliability, efficiency and safety.”

The growth in travelers is also helpful for some of MidAmerica’s non-commercial aviation-related business, Lamie said.

Boeing chose the airport for a new drone production facility, and MetroLink is extending its route from Scott Air Force Base to MidAmerica.

“Projects like [these] do not happen on their own,” Lamie said. “The airport’s long-term potential brought public and private sector leaders together to identify new investments to support the regional economy today and in the future.”

Eric Schmid covers economic development for St. Louis Public Radio. 

Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.

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