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STL To Suspend Airline Fees To Attract New Service

In an effort to bring new flights to Lambert-St. Louis International (STL) is temporarily suspending landing fees and rental costs to airlines that start service to new destinations.

The move comes as a pre-emptive way to recoup some of the non-stop service the airport will lose in April, when American Airlines reduces its St. Louis schedule. The airport will put aside about $1.7M for the program.

“It’s going to be provided to the airlines on a first-come, first-served basis,” said Richard Hrabko, airport director. “Frankly, I wish we were in a position to offer more. We are talking to a lot of different carriers about coming in here and taking up some of the void that American’s going to be leaving.”

The program is open to both new airlines and those that already offer service at STL. The program has already been endorsed by the St. Louis Airport Authority; it next must win approval from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and the city Estimate Board.

The airport and others around the country have had similar incentive programs for years. One STL official said the program was successful in attracting and expanding air service during its first 26 months.

Hrabko says plans were in the works to extend the incentive program before officials knew American would be cutting flights. If the continuation is approved, it will be funded through June through an airport contingency account.

Airlines that participate in the program must commit to keeping passenger air service to a new city for at least 24 months. IN exchange, they would be eligible for a 12-month waiver of landing fees and rental costs associated with the new flights.

“This is happening in strong and weak markets across the country,” says airport commissioner John Bales. “Airlines have come to expect this. It shows a commitment from the city and the region to attract air service.”