The St. Louis County Port Authority on Thursday approved pursuing a study on how privatizing St. Louis Lambert International Airport could affect the region.
Port Authority board members voted 4-3 to submit a request for study proposals.
“I think we don’t have any information, and it’s certainly not been shared to us by anybody that’s with the city,” said St. Louis County Port Authority Board Chairman John Maupin. “We know we can’t tell the city what to do, but we think that they would certainly benefit from having more information.”
He added that this is a good first step to start discussions.
But others on the board were more critical of the potential study, including Mike Hejna. He said it could intrude in the city’s affairs.
“It does nothing for transparency, it does nothing regarding what the city’s doing,” Hejna said. “This is simply us saying, ‘We want to know how can we take this over from a regional standpoint.’”
The vote follows last month’s meeting where port authority officials decided to table a discussion on the study to allow Airport Advisory Working Group members to attend the meeting. No members of the working group attended the Thursday meeting. Mayor Lyda Krewson was invited but wasn't available.
Jacob Long, a spokesman for Krewson, said she couldn’t make Thursday’s meeting but instead offered to attend the Port Authority’s January meeting. Long said the mayor isn’t opposed to an outside study.
“I think the more info the merrier,” Long said. “The thing the city is interested in is getting a world-class airport.”
St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, who attended the meeting and has pushed for a study, objected to Hejna’s argument that the port authority is meddling in city affairs.
“The idea that somehow we’re stepping on the city’s toes is absurd,” Trakas said. “This thing has all the makings of Stenger 2.0. I’ve never seen such behind-the-scenes dark moves than we’ve seen in regards to this airport privatization study.”
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