Coming on the heels of a year of continued growth, MidAmerica St. Louis Airport has reached the mid-point of 2019 with more activity underway than ever before. The airport will reach another major milestone during the busy summer flight season with a record number of passengers taking advantage of convenient, affordable Allegiant flights to several great destinations during July. Beyond the growth in passenger counts, runway upgrades underway at Scott Air Force Base have resulted in increased use of MidAmerica’s runway by military planes, while Boeing also recently added to its operations at the airport.
July will be the biggest passenger traffic month ever at MidAmerica Airport, with 46,000 passengers expected to fly through the Airport. In June there were 43,000. The trend for the year has MidAmerica on pace for a 20 percent increase in traffic in 2019 over 2018. In the last five years, passenger growth has been over 475 percent. The growth has been fueled by growing awareness of the number of options available through Allegiant at MidAmerica Airport, where it now offers service to nine amazing destinations. Direct flights now depart daily for Destin/Fort Walton Beach, FL (VPS)- (Summer schedule); and regularly each week for Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL); Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, FL (PGD); Jacksonville, FL (JAX); Las Vegas, NV (LAS); Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR); Orlando/Sanford, FL (SFB); and Tampa/St. Pete, FL (PIE) and Phoenix / Mesa, AZ (AZA).
“Things are really taking off at MidAmerica as we continue to grow and welcome a record number of passengers who are choosing to fly from this great location to some of the most popular destinations in the country,” said St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern. “We are excited to serve the most passengers who have ever flown through MidAmerica Airport in a single month, and we fully expect the exciting growth trend to continue as word continues to spread about the hassle-free experience we offer.”
In direct response to last year’s record high passenger volume, MidAmerica Airport expanded the existing parking lot and transitioned to a new paid parking structure which offers some of the lowest rates in the region, costing travelers just $5 per day. All spots are just steps from the terminal. A new bus service was also introduced by St. Clair County Transit District in March to provide affordable round trips between the Shiloh-Scott AFB MetroLink station and the bus stop at the passenger terminal of the airport for MetroLink riders.
“While we’re excited about the growth on the passenger side or our operations, we’re also proud that our unique status as a Joint Use Airport partnering with Scott AFB is enabling us to serve their needs in an important way in 2019, and that’s contributing to significant additional take offs and landings on our runway,” said Tim Cantwell, director of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.
Through this partnership, Scott AFB is able to use the airport’s civilian runway as military flying missions require. Access to the civilian runway is also helpful when the military runway is undergoing repair, maintenance, or construction, as it is currently. In June, construction began on the military runway to upgrade visual aids to a high-intensity airfield lighting system. The new lighting system will enhance visibility for night and inclement weather flight operations. During this construction project, military aircraft will be able to take off and land on MidAmerica’s civilian runway.
“Unlike a similar closure at McChord AFB, where the entire flying wing operations were temporarily stationed at many other places for a repair project, the Scott AFB flying wings (375th Air Mobility Wing, 126th Air National Guard Air Refueling Wing and the 932nd Air Reserve Wing) do not have to deploy,” noted Cantwell. “That means there will be no changes to aircraft parking as military aircraft will remain parked on the base’s ramp, there will be no deployment to support home missions, and, especially, no family separation for the estimated entire year long closure due to the project.”
The recent increase in activity at the Airport is also being impacted by a long-term tenant. Boeing has been a tenant of MidAmerica Airport since 2010, where employees at the company’s St. Clair manufacturing facility perform assembly and subassembly work on a range of defense and commercial aircraft. Additionally, Boeing’s MQ-25 test asset for the U.S. Navy’s unmanned aerial refueling program will undergo ground and flight tests from MidAmerica this year.
Looking to the future, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed the state’s $45 billion Rebuild Illinois Capital plan, which includes up to $96 million to pay for a long-sought extension of MetroLink right to MidAmerica. The extension would complete the direct link between St. Louis Lambert International Airport and MidAmerica, making the airport even more accessible to a broader market and likely fueling continued growth.