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Lambert, MidAmerica Airports compete for Chinese business

By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – On Saturday another delegation of business and political leaders from Missouri will head to China for more talks on a proposed air-freight hub at Lambert Airport.
But the much smaller and underutilized MidAmerica Airport in Mascoutah, Ill. may be a step ahead of them.

A MD-11 cargo plane landed at MidAmerica Thursday. The flight from Shanghai marked the first test flight in what Metro East officials hope will become a permanent contract to offload Chinese goods.

Unlike Missouri's pitch to establish a freight hub at Lambert, St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern says MidAmerica has been in discussions with the Chinese for six years.

"Essentially this was our idea, usurped by Lambert," Kern said. "I guess the fact that we've been working on it longer means that we were able to put cargo on the ground first."

MidAmerica Airport was named a U.S. Port of Entry in 2006.

With the recent announcement that Boeing will move into the only existing cargo terminal next year, the airport plans to build another warehouse to store both perishable and general cargo.