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The US airport barely anybody knows about or uses. MidAmerica Airport, Illinois.

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An airport built with hopes of flying millions of passengers across America now boards a mere 16,000 a year - because nobody wants to go there. MidAmerica Airport, in Illinois, cost $313million and was originally planned to have 85 gates to load a heavy stream of flyers onto hundreds of flights a day. Now just two gates are needed at the busiest of times, with just four flights a week leaving the desolate runway near St Louis. (www.dailymail.co.uk) More...

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MrMopar
Aaron Shipley 8
Some context of why this airport was built:

In the 1990s STL was facing serious congestion with both the number of flights as well as number of passengers. In 1995 STL passenger traffic was above 25 million and still climbing and that airport was JAM PACKED to serve that many passengers and that many flights. Traffic would constantly back up and then get worse when weather narrowed operations to a single runway. At the same time Scott Air Force Base was on a list of facilities to be closed with another round of BRAC decisions from Congress. Decisions were made that resulted in BLV being built to A) save Scott AFB from being BRACed, and B) to function as a reliever airport for STL. Thus, $300 million was spent to build a second, civilian runway at Scott AFB, a new civilian airline terminal, and a joint control tower for the entire airfield. The construction worked to keep Scott AFB off the BRAC list because the entire ruse was that Congress wouldn't close a base that they just spent $300 million to upgrade and expand.

The second goal of BLV was a goal that is nearly impossible to achieve: to function as a reliever airport for STL. The primary logistical problems of having two airports in such close proximity are that airlines don't want to operate out of both airports. They don't want duplication in services to require more staff, more equipment, and more aircraft. Airlines would have to offer service at both airports to compete and that's a terrible waste of resources. No airline is going to operate out of both airports because then it's a nightmare to offer any connecting flights. Any flights to and from any location have to be offered at BOTH airports in order to compete because if you split your serviced destinations between those two airports you run into a lack of options. People can fly from ATL to BLV, but then passengers from ATL who want to connect and go to DEN might find that the flight to DEN only leaves from STL. So how do passengers do that? Arrive at BLV, collect their luggage, somehow find a way to schlep across town, across a river, to ANOTHER STATE to check in again for their connecting flight?! No, no one wants to do that. Thus airlines had to choose either STL or BLV. Airlines already serving STL didn't want to relocate to BLV because then they miss out on passengers who already want to go to STL, or are arriving at STL on feeder airlines connecting through code share partnerships. BLV was forever going to be consigned to a few small airlines that didn't want operate out of STL, or couldn't afford to compete at STL.

After pressing forward with the dumb idea of a reliever airport, the economy and other things gave BLV a roundhouse kick to the face. TWA merged with AA. AA had plans to keep STL as a major hub to relieve their operations at DFW and ORD, but the 9/11 attacks and the following economic crash greatly reduced air travel to the point that AA cut flights to/from STL over the years. In 2004 passenger totals at STL bottomed out at 13.4 million, down from 30.6 million in 2000. A greater than 50% decline in passengers meant that a reliever airport at BLV was entirely unnecessary. In addition that, STL had started construction on an additional runway in 1998 to relieve congestion at the airport. The $1.1 billion runway opened in 2006. It's little used right now due to the location being further from the terminal and most gates, but it's there for additional traffic at STL if and when it is needed.

BLV as a passenger airport is a disaster. It is a hideously expensive boondoggle that stands as a monument to government waste. Taxpayers all across the nation were fleeced of millions of dollars, and the residents of St. Claire County were robbed of even more. The residents of St. Claire County keep on losing every single year when their tax dollars are spent on an airport that loses millions. If you lived in St. Claire County, wouldn't you want $18 million of your tax dollars to go towards things that actually help you rather than an airport that exists to fly 16,000 people a year to Florida? $18 million divided by 16,000 passengers is $1,125 each. The residents of St. Claire county pay $1,125 to give each airline passenger a cheap trip to Florida on Allegiant Airlines!

BLV should be closed and abandoned so as to quit wasting more money that will never be recouped in future operations. The only possible use for BLV is free parking so that passengers can use the Park & Ride lots for a Metro train trip to STL for their flight, and St. Claire County taxpayers shouldn't even be paying for that.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 2
I wonder how many TSA employees are assigned to this airport for the four flights a week. That's a huge waste in itself.
MrMopar
Aaron Shipley 1
In a perfect world you would have TSA Officers from STL doing screening at BLV. They would take the Metro from STL to Scott AFB and then someone there could give them a short ride over to the terminal to work the 4 flights a week that Allegiant runs. It would be just a crew of people from STL that would cover that just as they cover any other screening checkpoint open in the STL terminal.

In the real world you have TSA with this weird idea that their organizational chart can't have hubs cross state lines. Thus you have at least a dozen people working part-time jobs at TSA to cover 4 flights a week, 16,000 passengers a year.
uscsmog
Jeff Beard 1
Question about your doubts regarding BLV's ability to function as a "reliever airport for STL", why couldn't the operations be managed similar to ORD/MDW? Clearly, Chicago has managed to work out a method of operating two airports in "close" proximity without the problems faced by STL/BLV, or even JFK/LGA. Airlines aren't duplicating operations, which would be the mess described, but specific airlines like Southwest are operating exclusively at the satellite airport, relocating traffic from the primariy airfield. It seems like the STL/BLV combination, if properly managed and marketed, could relocate some of the hub activity of ORD/MDW due to its location near the center of the U.S. (reducing some flying times, saving fuel), and the fact that facilities at ORD are saturated, making expansion by airlines or addition of new airlines difficult or impossible.
MrMopar
Aaron Shipley 1
The continued existence and use of MDW in Chicago is really just an aberration strongly related to the existence of Southwest airlines, who has a different operating model than other airlines. That, and for a while MDW had a few small air carriers who simply could not compete if they were to move to ORD. They were small and needed to just stay at MDW for their operations, at least until they went out of business (ATA, anyone?) and some of their assets were acquired by Southwest. If you look at MDW you will see that Southwest essentially owns that entire airport and there isn't any competition. So yeah, if you wanted to have one exclusive airline that controls 95% or greater of traffic out of an airport such as BLV, they could survive without having to have any operations at STL. But Southwest is already at STL and doing just fine because, as I detailed above, traffic plunged when AA cut operations at STL and they also opened another runway that can help during times of peak operations.

ORD is nowhere near saturated. They've completed major runway relocation projects that have cut down on flight delays and enabled increased operations, with plans to add more runways if traffic requires it in the future. There is no airline that wants to split operations from a hub at ORD to a satellite hub in STL because that requires duplication of services. The whole point of a hub is to consolidate your operations at one airport for cost efficiencies.
skylab72
skylab72 1
Just annex it to Scott...
sgbelverta
sharon bias 3
It's not like St. Louis has been a huge airport since TWA went away.
devsfan
ken young 3
I would much rather go to a suburban airport that is not crowded.
MikeMohle
Mike Mohle 1
No Problem here!
richb007
Richard Bond 2
Reminds me of congressman John Murtha's airport in PA, built at large expense just so he'd have a place to fly to and from DC near his home. Pork, pork, and more pork.
jdrums00
Jason Bruns 2
It's actually a nice airport. You can't beat the low fares from Allegiant and the parking is free. I live about 15 minutes from there and see the air traffic overhead for both Scott and MidAmerica. I bet if more passenger airlines would utilize the airport those numbers would increase exponentially..
dabeed
Dave Fisher 1
" I bet if more passenger airlines would utilize the airport those numbers would increase"

wow! with that kind of razor-sharp thinking, you are wasting your time commenting on these petty issues. you should be out saving the world.
MrMopar
Aaron Shipley 1
I'm sure it is a nice airport, but taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing a money-losing airport just to give people convenient flights when they can drive right over to STL and catch a larger variety of flights there.
preacher1
preacher1 2
I just wonder how many pilots of today actually know about it, thinking of Scott AFB and not supposed to be there?
sunnsea
Joe Russo 1
Build it and they will come....(eventually)
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well now, "Airport director Tim Cantwell remains optimistic that the money-hemorrhaging airport will eventually turn things around.'It takes time,' he said. 'Businesses have to grow. The commercial value is going to be so great here in the next 10 to 15 years." It's 18 years old and while I'll grant that lot of bad luck has come it's way, 28 years is a little bit long to see ROI. It opened in 97 before all the bad luck came around, so they should have seen a bad idea quicker than now.
MrMopar
Aaron Shipley 1
Tim Cantwell's job is dependent on him wearing rose-tinted glasses and proclaiming that the future of BLV has never been brighter, a turnaround is right around the corner, that they will make lots of money soon, etc.
skyhawkrg
skyhawkrg 1
Well, the air field is not totaly wasted as it shares facilities with Scott AFB.
preacher1
preacher1 3
I guess that is whay they were talking about turning over to DoD. I knew it couldn't be far from Scott. With TWA gone and Lambert on a down hill slide, they ought too and just quit spending money on it.
pempeld
Dan Pempel 1
It is actually connected to Scott by a long taxiway. The Air Force uses the longer MidAmerica runway more than the civilian traffic does.
KennyFlys
Ken Lane 1
Lambert expanded with another runway a few years back. The new 29 has a 0.7% upslope but looks more like 7%.
skyhawkrg
skyhawkrg 1
Add this the list of boondoggle airports including Mirabel/Montreal and Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport in Florida
canuck44
canuck44 1
This is like Mirabel South. That airport has no passenger airlines, lots of cargo and Bombardier manufacturing and assembly of CRJs and the C-series.
MikeMohle
Mike Mohle 1
Actually this is a great airport and close to locations on the east side of St Louis and downtown, I have flown in and out at least dozens of times in all different types of [GA] aircraft, 182 to jets.
skyhawkrg
skyhawkrg 2
Apparently not many people use the facility, given an average ops per day at 48

Data from AirNav.com

Aircraft operations: avg 48/day *
68% military
30% local general aviation
1% commercial
<1% air taxi
* for 12-month period ending 31 December 2014
sparkie624
sparkie624 1
It looks like it was built way too close to St. Louis...
preacher1
preacher1 2
Well, it was on purpose, as a reliever for Lambert when it was still a busy Hub, when TWA was there and Southwest just starting. Lambert was out of room at the time but managed to hang on, and this one went nowhere except USAF. Me thinks Scott was there and they opened to this civilian pax terminal and commercial use. It just never panned out.
davysims
David Sims 1
So many people don't realize it takes a decade or more to plan and build a new airport, and in that time the industry can change dramatically. Just as you pointed out, at the time this airport was being planned and built, Lambert was at capacity and is fairly landlocked preventing much expansion. Between all of the mergers, 9/11, and everything else, it was a calculated risk that didn't pan out.
canuck44
canuck44 2
....and to East St Louis.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I remember East St. Louis from the late 60's. In the mid 90's, we took a vacation up that way to see some friends in STL and while driving around in daylight hours, wound up over in thee. It was amazing how it had been all prettied up but was still about the same as the old, still the hood.
skylab72
skylab72 0
Yo, don be badmoufin da hood, I went to Parks College when it was in dat hood an luvd it!
pempeld
Dan Pempel 1
In addition to being intended as a reliever for Lambert back in the days of TWA existing and Lambert having a lot more congested, it was also part of the plan to move the 126th Air Refueling Wing from O'Hare to Scott. MidAmerica and Scott are connected and share the runways through a joint use agreement.
RECOR10
RECOR10 1
Not a far cry from an airport a mile from me - RFD
SCOTTEA
RALPH SCOTT 1
Does this remind one of Dulles Airport?
skylab72
skylab72 1
No, Dullas is busy.
skylab72
skylab72 1
Sunk cost. How long before they spend another few million to hook the place up with public transit back to StLouie?
andyc852
andyc852 1
Pork, Pork,Pork!

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