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St. Louis’ Withdrawal From Airport Privatization Has Yet To Land At FAA

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis halted a years-long process exploring a potential lease of the airport in December. Mayor Lyda Krewson said she formally pulled the application with the Federal Aviation Administration last week.

Updated at 11:45 a.m. June 5 with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's letter requesting the FAA withdraw the city's application.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says she has formally withdrawn the city’s application with the Federal Aviation Administration to consider leasing St. Louis Lambert International Airport. But a spokesperson with the FAA said the agency hasn’t gotten it yet.

The spokesperson said the correspondence may still be in transit.

Krewson halted the city’s controversial exploration of the issue six months ago. She has previously said she intended to withdraw the application but first wanted to be sure there wasn’t a reason to keep it alive.

A spokesperson for her office said Thursday that Krewson formally asked the FAA to withdraw the application late last week. In a text message, he said the application is outdated.

“You will need to ask the FAA why they haven’t acted on the request. We’ve done our part to have it withdrawn,” Jacob Long said, adding that the mayor’s office has corresponded with the FAA via phone and email.

Long said the mayor is not involved, nor is she supportinga new effort pushing for airport privatization, launched late last month by the St. Louis NAACP and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council.

The organizations, which endorsed airport privatization last year, plan to circulate a petition to get the issue on the November ballot. If they collect the required 22,000 signatures, a question would ask voters whether the city should lease its airport.

It would take more than 60% of the vote to pass the proposal. And if it passes, that would trigger a plan for leasing the airport.

The local NAACP and the carpenters union recently created a joint entity behind the petition, called St. Louis Rising. Together they’ve contributed $5,000.

State campaign finance records show that media advocacy organization Pelopidas has donated the lion’s share of the petition’s funding — nearly $75,000.

The company’s founder, Travis Brown, previously served as the lead consultant reporting to the city on airport privatization. His dual roles came under fire after Pelopidas’ associated company, First Rule, released a controversial documentary about the airport last year. The organization later pulled it from all streaming platforms at the request of the city.

Pelopidas is also associated with Rex Sinquefield, a local billionaire who provided the consultants and the funding for the city’s last attempt at airport privatization. According to the consulting contract, Sinquefield would have been reimbursed by the city if a deal had gone through. He spent more than $11 million on the effort.

If the new ballot initiative goes through and the St. Louis application is withdrawn, the FAA would need to approve a new application in order for the city to lease Lambert.


Follow Corinne on Twitter:@corinnesusan

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Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.