FLY314 became an official project of Grow Missouri, Inc., a social welfare (501C4) organization, with the signing of this transmittal letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on March 22, 2017. If approved for one of ten limited slots under this 1997 federal law, Saint Louis city residents would have a chance to give our airport “a shot in the arm.”

Mayor Francis G. Slay announced on March 22, 2017 that the City of St. Louis has submitted a preliminary application requesting that the FAA reserve a slot for St. Louis Lambert International Airport in its Airport Privatization Pilot Program.
FLY314 Can Work: The Saint Louis region has been blessed throughout the years with leaders who step up for change. Our arch riverfront renovation would not have been possible without private philanthropic support for this national park, nor would our Plant Science Center employ as many people without the vision of the Danforth Foundation. Now FLY314 can help guide our options and approvals for the next generation at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Global Trade: Saint Louis to Expand After FAA Pilot?

Now that the official FAA Docket 2017-0325 covering the Preliminary Application by the City of Saint Louis  is up online at the FAA Factsheet website, the Federal Register, and the Government Publishing Office, a lot more data and narratives with this application can...
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Understanding America’s Renewed Infrastructure Plan

On Monday, April 24, 2017, Reuters News Service first broke this Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announcement that the City of Saint Louis could become a bigger example of how the United States Department of Transportation could make public and private capital...
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What Comes After Saint Louis’ First Step with the FAA Pilot Privatization Application?

Although approaches to move public airports under a private operator lease have been available for nearly twenty years, too often municipal governments may find it hard to recruit the legal, professional, and regulatory expertise to pursue a preliminary application...
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“This is a great opportunity to explore a public private partnership for the airport. I appreciate their consideration of our application and look forward to working with the FAA throughout the process, but as always, the key is in the details.”

Lyda Krewson

Mayor of St. Louis

“Done correctly, a large private investment to upgrade the Airport could be a game changer for St. Louis County and the entire region. I support the idea of exploring a public-private partnership at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport.” Steve Stenger

County Executive of St. Louis County

“Public private partnerships (P3s) have demonstrated opportunities to leverage resources and to expand government services. St. Louis can explore the value of a P3 through the application to the FAA’s pilot program for Airport Privatization.” Dennis Lavallee

President of the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers

“This (proposal for a public-private partnership for St. Louis Lambert International Airport) is the kind of creative thinking our region desperately needs.  If you believe in entrepreneurism, this is a potentially very exciting development.” John Hancock

KMOX “Hancock & Kelley” March 24, 2017

“The City of St. Louis is standing on the cusp of an exciting opportunity by initiating this process to determine if a new operator can lead St. Louis Lambert International Airport into the future. By running the airport like a business, the opportunity for economic development increases while conserving the City residents’ and airport consumers’ hard-earned tax dollars.” Melanie Abrajano

Executive Director, Missouri Club for Growth

“St. Louis Lambert International Airport has a long history of innovation and firsts in aviation. We find ourselves now at a critical crossroads where it makes sense to explore options for a new 21st century operator to bring this key infrastructure asset back to its true, international, world class history, increasing the economic development potential for the City, the region and our state.” Tim Jones

Fmr. Speaker, Missouri House

“Today’s [April 24, 2017] announcement to accept the St. Louis Lambert International Airport’s preliminary application to participate in FAA’s Airport Privatization Pilot Program demonstrates the administration’s commitment to leveraging innovative financing strategies to revitalize our nation’s aviation infrastructure.” … “As we’ve already seen in San Juan, this approach to airport management increases productivity, revenue and operating efficiency for airports, creating greater access to capital for infrastructure needs.”

Elaine L. Chao

U.S. Transportation Secretary

“We congratulate DOT for this accomplishment [upon approval of the FAA preliminary application for St. Louis Lambert Int’l Airport], and look forward to continuing our work with them to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and ensure an airline system that works on behalf of all Americans.”

DJ Gribbin

Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy

“The privatization pilot program was designed to encourage innovative financing solutions, and we’re pleased that an increasing number of airport operators are participating.”

Michael Huerta

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator

“This is a huge deal for the STL region, an airport with proper management and direct flights internationally would mean a lot for every county around St. Louis!” (when sharing the St. Louis Business Journal Editorial “Airport’s future rests with business demand” via LinkedIn April 28, 2017}

John McCaherty

MO State Representative 97th District

“St. Louis Lambert International Airport is a key economic driver for the greater St. Louis region. St. Charles County has been actively involved as a regional partner throughout the years in support of our region’s largest airport. Studying the options available to the airport through this public-private partnership process makes sense. We should consider how private capital and innovations at the airport may lead to increased airport revenue to be used to improve the airport or reduce landing fees to attract more flights.” Steve Ehlmann

St. Charles County Executive

“Mayor Slay’s bold move to test this evolving market deserves support. The flying public, St. Louis taxpayers and the airlines deserve protection and continued excellence in operations and capital investment, and all of that can potentially be accomplished while producing significant unrestricted proceeds for the city.” – SOURCE Stephen Goldsmith

Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

Editorial: Airport’s future rests with business demand

St. Louis is in a rare position of leadership. The push to privatize Lambert airport is risky; the federal program being considered is largely unproven, and an expensive application process could fail for many reasons or drag for years. But former Mayor Francis...

Lambert Airport gets FAA approval to seek privatization

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - The City of St. Louis moves one step closer to putting its airport under private management. On Monday, the FAA approved giving St. Louis-Lambert International Airport one of 10 slots available in its airport privatization pilot program. This means...

Privatization of Air Traffic Control System

President Trump made clear his support of the privatization model during “infrastructure week” in June, 2017. In letters sent to Congress, the President called out his approval to move air traffic control authority away from the Federal Aviation Administration and into the hands of a private corporation governed by a select Board of Directors.

To understand why this would be necessary we must first travel back to 2004 when the Department of Transportation drafted an official plan for NextGen: the Next Generation Air Transportation System. This initiative was set into motion in order to advance the manner in which planes communicate with one another and with airports.

To date, the airspace in the United States relies on ground-based RADAR technology that dates back to World War II. One advantage of NextGen is its use of a satellite-based global positioning system that can bypass a human air traffic controller to inform pilots and airports of nearby traffic. Companies like FedEx have already implemented other NextGen advances such as Wake Turbulence Recategorization or ReCat for short, which helps planes avoid traveling through another plane’s wake.

In 2004, the FAA was given 26 years to roll out NextGen to all airports and aircraft with funding by Congress and layers of government approvals required along the way. Since then, both Canada and the U.K. have implemented similar systems. Hence the President’s directive to use privatization to bring this aviation program to market faster.

The terms of how the governing board would be structured include a specific list of initial members who would then elect additional members and would have the right to impose user fees. The FAA would still be responsible for securing our air space but questions remain as to how the billions needed to complete a national NextGen rollout will be generated.

Summer Vacations – FLY314 Minutes

Summer and vacation go hand in hand. You want to make the most of your trip which makes flying the preferred mode of transportation. However, when you add in layovers, you can often find yourself spending as much time in airports as you would spent driving to or from your destination.

Vacationers flying out of St. Louis Lambert International Airport have a few good choices when it comes to non-stop flights and we’ve ranked our top five here. While flight times vary, you can be wheels up and wheels down within three hours in any direction from Lambert airport. That’s a big benefit to everyone making the trip with you and we couldn’t be more thankful for the airlines that make direct flights from St. Louis possible.

Amazon Shipping Fleet – What is the Impact to Lambert Saint Louis Airport?

Amazon is creating its own shipping fleet, but what is the impact to Lambert Saint Louis International Airport?

A Look Back at Albert Lambert and St. Louis Aviation

FLY314 looks back on the history of Lambert Field and its namesake Albert Bond Lambert. As a proponent of aeronautics innovation, his enduring vision was for St. Louis to be a frontrunner in the future of aviation. McDonnell Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft answered that call eventually becoming part of Boeing which continues to keep Major Lambert’s dream alive at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

Saint Louis Airport: Expanding Cargo Strategy

Saint Louis International Airport (Lambert Field), or KSTL, could improve its revenue by improving its cargo facility traffic.  One of Lambert’s largest tenants, Boeing, produces an informative global cargo forecast every year that can provide helpful assumptions.  Under a possible private lease agreement, running our airport more like a regional economic development engine could mean greater use of our runways and hangar operations.  This FLY314 clip shares some freighter industry data that could play a role in expanding jobs for our region.

FLY314: Saint Louis Airport: Local Approval & Public Opinions

Saint Louis International Airport (Lambert Field) has been given a chance to operate more like a business under a private lease with the City of Saint Louis.  This FLY314 media clip provides some public outreach results from public opinions collected by First Rule Focus Groups on April 5th, 2017.  Since city voters own this airport, only city voter beliefs were collected at this time.  Stay tuned for more FLY314 polling results for the entire Saint Louis Region.

Saint Louis Airport Privatization – FOX Business – Making Money With Charles Payne

Fox Business talks to FLY314 about the exciting possibilities surrounding this week’s FAA approval announcement that allows the City of Saint Louis to explore a public-private partnership of St. Louis Lambert International Airport. This Making Money segment highlights the fact that this is the start of something big not just for St. Louis residents and the region but also for our nation’s infrastructure. Now that approvals have been granted, FLY314 can help begin the local approval process which will lead to a two-stage bid requirement to identify the right potential partners.




How would the airport get approval for a private operator?

Any plan advanced would be subject to:


  1. Federal Approval (FAA)
  2. Local Approval (City)
  3. Airline majority approval (KSTL)

This process can take at least a year to build, select and complete.

For more information: Title 49 USC § 47134

Why is Fly314 doing this?
Fly314 is exploring the opportunity to return this facility to a best-in-class airport with an undisputed reputation for creating jobs.
Who is Fly314?
Fly314 and are projects of Grow Missouri, Inc. Grow Missouri, Inc, is a social welfare non-profit organization seeking to advance economic development opportunities within the Saint Louis region.
Who owns the St. Louis-Lambert International Airport now?

The City of St. Louis.

The airport is surrounded within St. Louis County, but the City of St. Louis owns the airport. When the airport was first created under the vision of Albert Bond Lambert, and with his private financing, they needed an area away from the populace for this then-innovative concept of an airfield. The land needed was outside the City of St. Louis boundaries within St. Louis County, the site where the airport is today.

Would St. Louis City still own the airport under this application?



St. Louis City would still own the airport, but it would be privately managed to allow for innovation and transfer of funds to the City for other purposes and expansion of economic development opportunities – it would be good for the airport, good for the City and good for the region.

What is the timeframe? How long will this take?

It could take up to two years for full approval.

This is a long process subject to many layers of approval:

  1. Federal approval (by the FAA)
  2.  Local approval (by the City)
  3. Airline majority approval (required by federal statute)
Is the City committing to something the City can’t get out of?



In order to allow the City to “get into the game” of airport innovation, the City must first ask the FAA to hold one of the slots in the pilot program for the St. Louis-Lambert International Airport. The City can opt out of this at any point. The City and its stakeholders should agree that this is good for the airport, good for the City, or good for the region.

How much money are taxpayers footing for the exploration of this process?


In the event that a private operator would get the final approval to operate the airport, that entity would reimburse the city’s costs associated with this transaction.

How do taxpayers support the airport now?
Airport revenues pay for the airport’s operations. It’s called an “enterprise fund” of the City’s. Airport revenues are created through taxes and fees paid by users of the airport. There is more than $700 million on city taxpayer bond debt currently supporting the budget of the airport.
What does the City get from the airport now?
The airport makes a marginal profit. The airport generates roughly $6 million annually for the City under a formula. Under current laws, the City is restricted from using any aviation-related revenues off the airport grounds.  Under the Airport Pilot Privatization Program (APPP), it is the only way to provide the City with off-airport revenues beyond the city revenue payments today.
What will the City and its taxpayers get for this public-private partnership?

New money to spend on City need as determined by the City leadership.

The City could get either a one-time lump sum cash payment and/or yearly cash payments estimated to be 4X to 10X current revenues under the life of the lease agreement. Plus, the risk and debt of the airport would likely be transferred from the City to the private operator, which will also benefit City taxpayers.

How much money will this generate for the City? Who gets to decide where that money goes? By what process?
The amount of money the City gets will be agreed to by the City and the new operator in the lease agreement. The City legislative process will decide where the new money will be spent.
What happens to the airport’s debt?
The City is currently responsible for the airport’s bond debt, but with the right proposal, that may go away and shift to the private operator.
Will this process be transparent?


Once the City advisers responsible for managing the process are complete, a broad number of stakeholders will have many months to determine community needs, airport priorities, and workforce protections.  Ultimately, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (E&A), along with the City Board of Aldermen, would have to agree and pass the terms of any long-term lease.

There are also several stages of approval at the federal level, and the FAA will hold a public hearing.

Has this been done in other cities? If so, what was the result?

YES.  This project has been successful in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plus, Westchester New York’s airport announced its plans to pursue a public-private partnership in Nov. 2016.


For example, with the San Juan International Airport, Puerto Rico received $615 million upfront in a lump sum payment, the private operator agreed to invest $1.4 billion in the airport over the term of the lease, and the operator will also share airport revenue with the government, estimated at $552 million in exchange for the 40 year lease. The transition was smooth, all airport employees who wanted to continue working kept their jobs, and the operator has already completed a $148 million renovation.

This process has proven to be effective world-wide, especially in Europe. Over 40% of European airports have at least some private shareholders, which also handle three out of every four passengers. (Airports Council International-Europe, 2016 study)

If the private operators go bankrupt, will the Airport stop its operations?



The FAA’s requirements and federal statutes clearly address this concern, requiring that in order to approve the transaction the Secretary of Transportation must find that the “operation of the airport will not be interrupted in the event that the … lessee becomes insolvent or seeks or becomes subject to any State or Federal bankruptcy, reorganization, insolvency, liquidation, or dissolution proceeding or any petition or similar law seeking the dissolution or reorganization of the purchaser or lessee or the appointment of a receiver, trustee, custodian, or liquidator for the purchaser or lessee or a substantial part of the purchaser or lessee’s property, assets, or business.” Section (c)(2).

The FAA’s procedures also expressly address this concern.  The FAA Notice requires that as part of the Final Application the sponsor and chosen private sector operator must provide a description of “how the private operator, the public sponsor, or both will address the … [c]ontinued operation of the airport in the event of bankruptcy or other financial or legal impairment of the private operator, in accordance with the specific terms of § 47134(c)(2).”

The FAA goes on to say that the Final Application should include “any provision for reversion to the public sponsor” as well as “a legal opinion and certification that the proposed plan will be effective under operation of all applicable law, including but not limited to bankruptcy law, in assuring the continued operation of the airport.”

In prior airport transactions under the Airport Privatization Pilot Program, the private sector operator has provided the FAA with a legal opinion of outside bankruptcy counsel stating that in the event that such operator becomes a debtor in a bankruptcy case under title 11 of the United States Code, the sponsor will be permitted to gain entrance to the airport and to operate the airport without regard to the “automatic stay” under Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code such that the sponsor would be entitled to commence or continue an action or proceeding to enforce its police or regulatory power in order to ensure that the operations of the airport would not be interrupted.  The City intends to require its chosen private sector operator to provide a similar legal opinion to both the City and the FAA.

Isn’t this program only for airports in financial trouble?



Airports do this to increase efficiency, attract private innovation and funding, and to free up funds from the airport for other important City needs such as transportation and more.

Will this impact union employees at the airport?


Federal law requires that collective bargaining agreements are not touched by the lease, and the FAA can enforce the law. The City can place any kind of worker requirements for all workers inside the contract with the chosen private operator selected.

Will this impact security and safety at the airport?


Security standards remain the same regardless of who operates the airport.

Will the new operator have the power of eminent domain?
Can the new operator sell its lease of the airport?
Not without City, FAA and TSA approvals.
How might this impact other operations at the airport?

Innovation could benefit economic development. Ideas include things like cold chain storage, USDA port of embarkation, and a dual custom/cargo clearance facility.

Does this have any effect on St Louis County? Will some of the money go to surrounding counties?

It depends upon what happens after final approval.  Capital transferred out of City airport grounds could be applied for other municipal and/or regional purposes. If economic development partnerships were increased in and around the airport, most would expect that new activity to benefit the county as well as the City.

Do you need support from Missouri’s U.S. Senators and Representatives? Does the City have it?

Support from our congressional delegation is not required but the City and Fly314 will ask for their support.


Missouri’s congressional delegation historically has provided strong support for the innovation of the airport. For example, in the 1970s when there was a movement by some to replace Lambert Airport, deeming it obsolete, Missouri’s congressional delegation successfully opposed that proposal. In more recent times, eleven years ago, Missouri’s congressional delegation successfully supported the W1W runway expansion. With their support on this important initiative they will help lead Lambert Airport and regional economic development into the future.


Please fill out the form and a member of the FLY314 team will get back with you as soon as possible.

While we strive for perfection, it is always possible we have a typo or other issue on the site. If you see any issues, please contact us to let us know and we will resolve the issue ASAP.

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Travis H. Brown
Instrument-Rated Private Pilot
Community Team Leader
FAA Airport Privatization Program Application
1034 S. Brentwood Blvd, Ste 1700
Saint Louis, MO 63117
Ph: 314-540-5515

A Public Education Project of Grow Missouri, Inc.

Press Kit

INSTRUCTIONS: Media materials contained in this FLY314 Press Kit include a press release as well as various sizes of the official FLY314 logo.

TO OPEN: The ZIP file should automatically open a folder with all elements inside. If you do not see a folder simply double-click the ZIP file.