St. Louis airport privatization consultants seek feedback, urge patience

Advisers hired by St. Louis to help the city explore privatizing St. Louis Lambert International Airport have started seeking public feedback on the idea.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen received an update on privatization efforts Tuesday. Alderman Marlene Davis, who leads the board’s transportation committee, urged patience. Although St. Louis applied in April 2017 to explore privatization, efforts only really took off this summer when the city approved contracts with consultants.

Those consultants have echoed Davis, advising residents to expect a “lengthy preparation phase.”

Latest efforts

Metropolitan Strategies and Solutions, one firm hired by the city, has already issued polls and held focus groups. This month, the firm started sending canvassers across the city in hopes of surveying 20,000 residents by December.

Residents have been encouraged to share thoughts directly with the Federal Aviation Administration, and Metropolitan Strategies plans to hold meetings with community groups.

Pros and cons

Backers of privatization have said it’s a chance for the city to make money from a lease agreement. They also say the move could position St. Louis as a leader, since there’s only one other private airport in the U.S.

Opponents question the need to take the airport private. They also have expressed concerns about conflicts of interest, with some saying that funding — and conditions for that funding — from billionaire financier Rex Sinquefield has tainted the process.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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