Lambert–St. Louis International Airport
|City of St. Louis Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Airport|
|IATA: STL – ICAO: KSTL – FAA LID: STL
– WMO: 72434
|Owner||City of St. Louis|
|Operator||St. Louis Airport Authority|
|Serves||Greater St. Louis, Missouri|
|Location||Unincorporated St. Louis County 10 miles (16 km) NW of St. Louis|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||605 ft / 184.4 m|
Lambert–St. Louis International Airport (IATA: STL, ICAO: KSTL, FAA LID: STL) is an international airport serving Greater St. Louis, Missouri. It is about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of downtown St. Louis in unincorporated St. Louis County between Berkeley and Bridgeton. It is the largest and busiest airport in the state with 255 daily departures to about 90 domestic and international locations. In 2014, 12.4 million passengers traveled through the airport. The airport serves as a focus city for Southwest Airlines and was a former hub for Trans World Airlines and later for American Airlines and AmericanConnection.
Named for Albert Bond Lambert, an Olympic medalist and prominent St. Louis aviator, the airport rose to international prominence in the 20th century, thanks to its association with Charles Lindbergh, its groundbreaking air traffic control, its status as the hub of Trans World Airlines, and its iconic terminal. Designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the building inspired terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport in France.
- 1 History
- 2 Facilities
- 3 Operations
- 4 Expansion
- 5 Incidents and accidents
- 6 Lambert in fiction
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The airport grew from a balloon launching base, Kinloch Field, part of the 1890s Kinloch Park suburban development. The Wright brothers and their Exhibition Team visited the field while touring with their aircraft. During a visit to St. Louis, Theodore Roosevelt flew with pilot Arch Hoxsey on October 11, 1910, becoming the first U.S. president to fly. Later, Kinloch hosted the first experimental parachute jump.
In June 1920, the Aero Club of St. Louis leased 170 acres of cornfield, the defunct Kinloch Racing Track and the Kinloch Airfield in October 1923, during The International Air Races. The field was officially dedicated as Lambert–St. Louis Flying Field in honor of Albert Bond Lambert, an Olympic silver medalist golfer in the 1904 Summer Games, president of Lambert Pharmaceutical Corporation (which made Listerine), and the first person to receive a pilot's license in St. Louis. In February 1925, "Major" (his 'rank' was given by the Aero Club and not the military) Lambert bought the field and added hangars and a passenger terminal. Charles Lindbergh's first piloting job was flying airmail for Robertson Aircraft Corporation from Lambert Field; he left the airport for New York about a week before his record-breaking flight to Paris in 1927. Later that year, Lambert sold the airport to the City of St. Louis, making it the first municipally-owned airport in the United States.
After World War II – Airport expansion, Ozark Airlines 1945–1982
After the war, NAS St. Louis reverted to a reserve installation, supporting carrier-based fighters and land-based patrol aircraft. When it closed in 1958, most of its facilities were acquired by the Missouri Air National Guard and became Lambert Field Air National Guard Base. Some other facilities were retained by non-flying activities of the Naval Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve, while the rest was redeveloped to expand commercial airline operations at the airport.
To handle the increasing passenger traffic, Minoru Yamasaki was commissioned to design a new terminal at Lambert. Completed in 1956, the four-domed design inspired terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows TWA with 44 weekday departures; American, 24; Delta, 16; Ozark, 14; Eastern, 13; Braniff, six, and Central, two. The first jets were TWA 707s in July 1959.
In the 1970s St. Louis city officials proposed to replace the airport with a new one in suburban Illinois. After Missouri residents objected in 1977, Lambert received a $290-million expansion that lengthened the runways, increased the number of gates to 81, and boosted its capacity by 50 percent. (A proposed Illinois airport was later built anyway, though not near the originally proposed site; MidAmerica St. Louis Airport opened in 1997 in Mascoutah, Illinois. As of 2013 the only scheduled passenger service is nonstop flights to Orlando's Sanford Airport, operated by Allegiant Air.) Concourse A and Concourse C were rebuilt into bi-level structures equipped with jet bridges as part of a $25 million project in the mid-1970s designed by Sverdrup. The other concourses were demolished. Construction began in the spring of 1976 and was completed in September 1977. A$20 million, 120,000 sq ft extension of Concourse C for TWA and a $46 million, 210,000 sq ft Concourse D for Ozark Airlines also designed by Sverdrup were completed in December 1982.
Ozark Airlines established its only hub at Lambert in the late 1950s. The airline grew rapidly, going from 36 million revenue passenger miles in 1955, to 229 million revenue passenger miles in 1965. The jet age came to Ozark in 1966 with the Douglas DC-9-10 and its network expanded to Denver, Indianapolis, Louisville, Washington, D.C., New York City, Miami, Tampa and Orlando. With the addition of jets, Ozark began its fastest period of growth, jumping to 653 million revenue passenger miles by 1970, and 936 million revenue passenger miles by 1975, however Ozark soon faced heavy competition in TWA's new hub at Lambert.
TWA era 1982–2001
In 1982, Trans World Airlines (TWA) moved its hub from Kansas City International Airport. The move made TWA the dominant carrier at Lambert, and turned the St. Louis airport into one of the busiest in the country. The hub was based in Concourse B and the newly expanded Concourse C.
In 1985, Southwest Airlines began service, an event that would lead to major changes at the airport in the coming years.
TWA's hub grew again in 1986 when the airline bought Ozark Airlines, which had its hub at Lambert's Concourse D. In 1985, TWA had accounted for 56.6% of boardings at STL while Ozark accounted for 26.3%, so the merged carriers now controlled over 80% of the traffic. As of 1986, TWA served STL with nonstop service to 84 cities, an increase from 80 cities served by TWA and/or Ozark in 1985, before the merger.
Despite the entry of Southwest Airlines in the market, the TWA buyout of Ozark and subsequent increase in the number of nonstop cities served, the total number of passengers using Lambert held steady from 1985 through 1993, ranging between 19 million and 20 million passengers per year throughout the period.
Lambert again grew in importance for TWA after the airline declared bankruptcy in 1993 and moved its headquarters to St. Louis from Mount Kisco, NY. TWA increased the number of cities served, and started routing more connecting passengers through its hub at Lambert. Total number of passengers using Lambert rose from 19.9 million passengers enplaned in 1993, jumping almost 20% in one year to 23.4 million in 1994. Growth continued, with total enplaned jumping to 27.3 million by 1997, and 30.6 million in 2000, the highest ever in its history. By the late 1990s, Lambert was TWA's dominant hub, with 515 daily flights to 104 cities as of September 1999. Of those 515 flights, 352 were on TWA mainline aircraft, and 163 were Trans World Connection flights operated by its commuter airline partners.
However, TWA faced increasing problems as overall airline demand softened in response to a softening overall economy. As TWA entered the new millennium, its financial condition proved too precarious to continue alone, and in January 2001 American Airlines (AA) announced it was buying TWA.
American Airlines, Air National Guard, Southwest Airlines 2001–present
American Airline's merger closed in April 2001, and the last TWA flight was flown on December 1, 2001. AA felt that TWA's Lambert hub was a key asset. Its plan for Lambert was to become a reliever hub for AA's existing hubs at Chicago O'Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. American had been looking for a way to relieve its overcrowded hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where nearly 40 percent of American's flights had arrived at least 15 minutes late in June, July and August 2000. American was looking at something strategic with its new St. Louis hub to potentially offload some of the pressure on O'Hare to restore its operations to respectable levels. American Airlines shifted some flights from mainline aircraft to commuter aircraft because of softening overall airline demand, however, overall flight levels remained strong. In July 2001, TWA, now a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, and its regional carrier Trans World Express averaged 522 daily departures.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a huge demand shock to air service nationwide, with total airline industry domestic revenue passenger miles dropping 20% in October 2001 and 17% in November 2001. Overnight, AA no longer had the same need for a hub that bypasses its hubs at Chicago and Dallas, which suddenly became less congested. AA cut flights out of St. Louis from 522 daily flights as of July 2001, to approximately 450 flights as of December 2001. Flights to Paris, France went to seasonal service in December 2001, and transatlantic service was soon discontinued altogether when it stopped flying nonstop from St. Louis to London Gatwick airport. AA transferred many mainline routes to American Connection, a group of affiliated regional carriers. By June 2002, AA had further reduced service to 439 daily flights to 109 cities, however, only 276 of those flights were on AA mainline aircraft, and 163 were flown on commuter aircraft operated as American Connection. At the time, Lambert was AA's 3rd largest hub ranked by number of daily departures, and its 2nd largest hub ranked by number of destinations served. AA's largest hub at the time was DFW, with 757 daily flights to 145 destinations. AA's Chicago O'Hare hub had 489 daily flights to 102 destinations, STL had 439 flights to 109 destinations, while its Miami hub had just 236 flights to 79 destinations. Much of the reduction in overall service could be blamed on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, however, Lambert was affected disproportionately due to flight cuts and shifts of flights from mainline to commuter aircraft, because of Lambert's lessened need as a reliever hub since O'Hare was suddenly less congested.
By September 2002, Lambert's passenger traffic had declined by 16.9% from before the terrorist attacks a year earlier, which was the 8th biggest percentage drop of the major US airports. Total passengers enplaned for the year fell to 25.6 million. AA's other hubs suffered from reduced traffic, but to a lesser degree with the exception of Miami, which suffered from a 16.0% decline. New York JFK's traffic dropped 12.6%, DFW traffic dropped 6.7%, O'Hare traffic dropped 6.5%. Even though O'Hare's drop in traffic was the lowest, the 6.5% reduction at O'Hare was enough to virtually eliminate its previous problems with congestion-related delays that suffered from prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, removing a main purpose for AA's St. Louis hub. As a result of the reduced congestion at O'Hare, Congress eliminated all slot restrictions at O'Hare in July 2002.
On July 16, 2003, AA announced it was significantly reducing its Lambert hub effective November 1, 2003, cutting it from 417 daily flights to 207, effective November 1, 2003. Total Lambert passengers enplaned dropped to 20.4 million in 2003, then to 13.4 million in 2004. AA introduced American Eagle service at its St. Louis hub in May 2005. Unlike American Connection, American Eagle operated by Envoy Air is wholly owned by American Airlines Group, the parent company of American Airlines and Envoy Air.
In 2006, the United States Air Force announced plans to turn the 131st Fighter Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard into the 131st Bomb Wing. The wing's 20 F-15C and F-15D aircraft were moved to the Montana Air National Guard's 120th Fighter Wing at Great Falls International Airport/Air National Guard Base, Montana and the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. The pilots and maintainers moved to Whiteman AFB, Missouri to fly and maintain the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber as the first Air National Guard wing to fly the aircraft. Lambert Field Air National Guard Base formally shut down in June 2009, when the final two F-15C Eagles did a low approach over the field, then flew away. The event was attended by more than 2,200 people who said goodbye to a part of airport history for over 85 years.
Lambert's passenger traffic slowly rebounded from American Airlines' cuts of November 2003, increasing from a low of 13.4 million passengers enplaned in 2004, to 15.4 million by 2007, and increase of almost 15 percent.
During 2008, Lambert's position as an American Airlines hub faced further pressure due to increased fuel costs and softened demand because of a depressed economy. AA cut its overall system capacity by 5% during 2008. At Lambert, AA shifted even more flights from its mainline jets to commuter airplanes. Total passengers enplaned fell 6% to 14.4 million in 2008, then fell another 11% to 12.8 million passengers in 2009.
In September 2009, American Airlines announced that, as a part of the airline's restructuring, it would eliminate its St. Louis hub by reducing its operations from approximately 200 daily flights to 36 daily flights to nine destinations in the summer of 2010. These cuts ended the remaining hub operation. AA's only remaining nonstop flights out of St Louis were limited to the five focus cities (four hubs plus LAX) as well as Boston, New York/LaGuardia, Seattle, and Washington/National. American's announcement that its St. Louis hub would close was part of its new "Cornerstone" plan whereby the airline would be concentrating on its 4 primary hubs in major markets: Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami, and New York, with a focus city in Los Angeles. While it cut approximately 165 daily flights from St. Louis, AA increased flights at O'Hare by 57 daily flights and by 15 new destinations, to a new total of 487 daily flights to 114 destinations. Ironically, due to soft overall airline demand, the O'Hare hub actually lost a net 11 daily mainline flights, offset by 68 new regional jet flights. At its DFW hub, AA increased flights by 19 daily flight and one additional destination, for a new total of 780 daily flights to 160 destinations. At its Miami hub, AA increased flights 23 daily flights and one additional destination, to a new total of 294 daily flights to 108 destinations. AA also cut flights out of several other non-hub cities, especially in Boston and Raleigh-Durham. In particular, AA's move to increase flights at O'Hare was a strategic move to catch up to United Airlines, which had its largest hub there but was cutting its flights at the time,
In early October 2009, Southwest Airlines announced the addition of 6 daily flights to several cities it already served from St. Louis, as an immediate response to the cutbacks announced by American Airlines. Then on October 21, 2009, Southwest announced that the airline will increase service with a "major expansion" in St. Louis by May 2010. The airline announced it would begin flying nonstop from St. Louis to 6 new cities, for a new total of 31 destinations, increasing the total number of daily departures from 74 to 83, also replacing American as the carrier with the most daily flights after American's service cuts scheduled for Summer 2010. Total passengers enplaned fell to 12.3 million in 2010, the lowest passenger total in decades. Passenger traffic rebounded in 2011, increasing 1.6% to 12.5 million enplaned, and increased another 1.1% in 2012, to 12.7 million. Through May 2013, total passengers enplaned increased by 1.3% versus the same period in 2012.
American Airlines is now the airport's second-busiest operating airline. With the merger with US Airways, American Airlines will solidify its No. 2 position. Based on the summer 2013 schedule, American had 28 daily departures from Lambert, and US Airways had 17, for a total of 45 daily flights as of July 2013, and 48 flights as of fall 2013 There is no overlap between these airlines on cities served from St. Louis. American flies between St. Louis and three of its primary hubs, Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Miami, as well as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. Reagan National Airport, and New York's LaGuardia. US Airways serves Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Phoenix from Lambert, for a total 10 combined cities served nonstop. Combined, the two carriers comprised about 24 percent of the market share at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport in 2012,. Southwest Airlines is the dominant carrier at Lambert, accounting for 47 percent of total passengers, as of 2012.
As of May 2012, the airport is on a significant upswing, with traffic up by about 14%. Southwest Airlines has also announced that over the next few years, they will add several new routes out of Lambert International. Lambert has said they are in talks with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines to try and land a route to London. St. Louis is the largest market in the United States that does not have a flight to Europe. Lambert–St. Louis International Airport was the 31st busiest airport in the U.S. as ranked by Airports Council International-North America. Lambert served nearly 13 million passengers in 2012.
By 2013, flights at the airport had continued their steady growth, with 64 non-stop cities served, including 6 international destinations, St. Louis had grown to one of Southwest Airlines' top 10 cities, ranked No. 10, with 95 daily departures to 35 non-stop destinations, per its March 2013 schedule update. The airline currently operates out of 10 gates.
In May 2013, Moody's raised its rating on Lambert Airport's bonds to A3-stable outlook from Baa1 with a stable outlook. Standard & Poor's raised its rating to A- with a stable outlook from A- with a negative outlook. This is the first time in more than a decade that both Moody's and Standard & Poor's ratings for the Airport have both been in the single "A” category. Earlier in the month, Fitch Ratings upgraded outstanding airport revenue bonds to 'BBB+' from 'BBB' with a stable outlook. The rating agencies attributed the upgrades to strong fiscal management and positive passenger traffic.
2011 St. Louis tornado
About 8:10 p.m. on April 22, 2011, an EF4 tornado struck the airport's Terminal 1, destroying jetways and breaking more than half of the windows. One plane from Southwest Airlines was damaged when the wind pushed a baggage conveyor belt into it. Four American Airlines planes were damaged, including one that was buffeted by 80 mph crosswinds while taxiing after landing. One aircraft, with passengers still aboard, was moved away from its jetway by the storm. The FAA closed the airport on April 22 at 08:54 pm CDT, then reopened it the following day at temporarily lower capacity. The C concourse underwent renovations and repairs, and they were completed and reopened on April 2, 2012.
The damage to Concourse C forced several airlines to use vacant gates in the B and D concourses, including AirTran, American, Cape Air, and Frontier. Frontier Airlines moved to B, while American and Cape Air went to D. Airtran was moved to Terminal 2 with Southwest Airlines.
Kwame Building Group assisted with the reconstruction, and the Airport Experience Program commenced immediately.
Later in the year, the TSA declared Lambert Airport its "Airport of the Year" for "exceptional courtesy, high-quality security" and the excellent response by airport officials during and after the tornado.
Lambert–St. Louis International Airport covers 2,800 acres (1,133 ha) and has four runways:
- Runway 12R/30L: 11,019 x 200 ft (3,359 x 61 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 12L/30R: 9,003 x 150 ft (2,744 x 46 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 11/29: 9,000 x 150 ft (2,743 x 46 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 6/24: 7,602 x 150 ft (2,317 x 46 m), Surface: Concrete
The airport has two terminals with a total of 5 concourses. International flights and passengers use Terminal 2, whose lower level holds the Immigration and Customs gates. Passengers can move between the terminals on complimentary buses that run continuously, or via MetroLink for a fee. It was possible to walk between the terminals via Concourse D until connection was blocked in 2008 with the closure of Concourse D.
- Concourse A: Gates A2–A6, A8–A10, A12, A14–A19, A21
- Concourse B: Gates B2–B4, B6–B8, B10, B12, B14, B16 (Concourse used only for charters)
- Concourse C: Gates C1–C3, C5–C10, C12, C15–C19, C21, C23, C24 (Gates C25 thru C38 are closed).
- Note: This concourse was reopened on April 2, 2012, almost one year after a tornado destroyed the concourse.
- Concourse D: Gates D2, D4, D6, D8, D10, D14, D16, D18, D20, D22, D24, D26, D28, D30, D32, D34, D36, D38, D40
- Note: 20 gates of this concourse were closed as a cost-saving measure in 2008. It is used for occasional overflow and ramp construction in Concourse C.
- Concourse E: Gates E2, E4, E6, E8, E10, E12, E14, E16, E18, E20, E22, E24, E25, E29, E31, E33.
- Note: Concourse E and Terminal 2 are completely used for Southwest Airlines operations
Mass transit/light rail/subway
The airport is connected to MetroLink's Red Line via a station at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. One-ride and all-day tickets can be purchased from vending machines on the platforms. MetroLink lines provide direct or indirect service to downtown St. Louis, the Clayton area, and Illinois suburbs in St. Clair County.
Two MetroBus lines serve the Lambert Bus Port, which is located next to the intermediate parking lot, and accessible via the tunnel from Terminal 1:
- 49 Lindbergh
- 66 Clayton-Airport
The American Airlines Admirals Club at the B/C/D connector is large for its type, with seats for 244. It has a bar/snack area, basic ticketing functions, espresso bar, three private conference rooms, and complimentary use of six PCs, dataports, copier, printer and paper shredder. This club was damaged by the 2011 tornado and was temporarily relocated to a holding space in Concourse D until it reopened in 2013.
Lambert's USO facility, on the lower level of the Main Terminal next to baggage claim carousel #M6, is one of the largest in the country. Open 24 hours a day, it serves more than 120,000 military men and women each year.
The airport has cited interest in a Delta Sky Club in the A Concourse.
Construction was started for a United Red Carpet Club, but ended due to a strike by the contractor's workers.
Black Americans in Flight mural
Black Americans in Flight is a mural that depicts African American aviators and their contributions to aviation since 1917. It is located in Terminal 1 / Main Terminal on the lower level near the entrance to gates C and D and baggage claim. The mural consists of five panels and measures 8 feet tall and 51 feet long. The first panel includes Albert Edward Forsythe and C. Alfred Anderson, the first black pilots to complete a cross-country flight, the Tuskegee Institute and the Tuskegee Airmen, Eugene Bullard, Bessie Coleman, and Willa Brown (first African American woman commercial pilot in United States). The second panel shows Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Clarence "Lucky" Lester and Joseph Ellesberry. The third panel shows Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, Capt. Ronald Radliff, and Capt. Marcella Hayes. The fourth and fifth panels show Ronald McNair, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, Guion Bluford, who in 1983 became the first African American in space, and Mae Jemison, the first African America woman in space. Spencer Taylor and Solomon Thurman created the mural in 1990. The mural had a re-dedication ceremony in 2012.
Aircraft on display
Two aircraft from the Missouri History Museum hang from Lambert's ceilings. The first is a 1934 Monocoupe D-145 near the Terminal 1 security checkpoint. Charles Lindbergh bought it in 1934 from the Lambert Aircraft Corporation and flew it as his personal plane. The second aircraft, a red Monocoupe 110 Special, manufactured in St. Louis in 1931, hangs in Terminal 2. Until 1998, a Ryan B-1 Brougham, a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, hung next to the D-145.
Lambert's runways have long been used for test flights and deliveries of military aircraft by McDonnell Douglas, which built its world headquarters and principal assembly plant next to the airport; and now by Boeing, which bought McDonnell and now uses its St. Louis facilities as headquarters for its Boeing Defense, Space & Security division. The plant currently builds the F-15 Strike Eagle, F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18 Growler; and is home to Boeing Phantom Works.
China cargo hub and Aerotropolis
In 2008, China Cargo Airlines (a subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines) was reported to be considering a cargo hub at Lambert as part of its international cargo and passenger service expansion. Lambert was considered an attractive option as runway 11/29 would accommodate the large cargo aircraft and the decline in passenger service during the first decade of the 2000s meant less congestion than busier airports such as Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
Negotiations led to the 2009 creation of the public-private Midwest-China Hub Commission to developing an implementation plan. Planners for the cargo hub envisioned St. Louis as an Aerotropolis, an urban form whose layout, infrastructure, and economy is centered on an airport, offering its businesses speedy connectivity to suppliers, customers, and enterprise partners worldwide. Negotiations between the Chinese ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, China's Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Zhaoxing, Missouri Senators Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill and business leaders from the St. Louis region continued over the next two years. The United States Department of Commerce allowed expansion of the foreign trade zone near Lambert airport on February 13, 2009.
In 2011, the "Aerotropolis Tax Credit" was introduced into the Missouri Senate. The bill provides $360 million of tax incentives to freight forwarders and for the development of warehouses, cold storage facilities and transportation connections in so-called "Gateway Zones," foreign trade zones located within 50 miles of St. Louis. The bill was debated in a special session during September 2011 but ultimately failed to gain enough support. The future of the tax credit remains uncertain.
|Year||Total passengers (enplaned and deplaned)|
Airlines and destinations
Scheduled commercial airlines
- ^1 All International Arrivals are located in Terminal 2 - "E" Terminal - International Gates / Customs.
operated by Frontier Airlines
|Seasonal Charter: Cancun, Huatulco, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana||1C|
|Sun Country Airlines||Seasonal Charter: Cancun, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana||1C|
|FedEx Express||Indianapolis, Memphis|
|Integrated Airline Services||Multi City|
|1||Atlanta, GA||469,000||AirTran, Delta|
|2||Chicago, IL (ORD)||401,000||American, United|
|3||Denver, CO||332,000||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|4||Dallas/Fort Worth, TX||319,000||American|
|5||Minneapolis/St Paul, MN||272,000||Delta, Southwest|
|6||Chicago, IL (MDW)||252,000||Southwest|
|6||Dallas, TX (Love Field)||252,000||Southwest|
|8||Phoenix, AZ||248,000||Southwest, US Airways|
|9||New York, NY (LGA)||236,000||American, Delta, Southwest|
|10||Los Angeles, CA||199,000||American, Southwest|
During the late 1990s, Lambert Field was ranked as the eighth-busiest U.S. airport by flights (not by total passengers) largely due to TWA's hub operations, Southwest Airlines' growing traffic, and commuter traffic to smaller cities in the region. Congestion caused delays during peak hours and was exacerbated when bad weather reduced the number of usable runways from three to one. To cope, Lambert officials briefly redesignated the taxiway immediately north of runway 12L–30R as runway 13–31 and used it for commuter and general aviation traffic. However, traffic projections made in the 1980s and 1990s predicted yet more growth, enough to strain the airport and the national air traffic system.
These factors led to the planning and construction of a 9,000-foot runway, dubbed Runway 11/29, parallel to the two larger existing runways. At $1.1 billion, it was the costliest public works program in St. Louis history. It required moving seven major roads and destroying about 2,000 homes, six churches and four schools in Bridgeton, Missouri. Construction began in 1998, and continued even as traffic at the airport declined after the 9/11 attacks, the TWA purchase, and American's 2003 reduction in flights. On April 13, 2006, American Airlines Flight 2470 became the first commercial airliner to land on the new runway.
Now complete, the runway is used by an estimated 5% of flights, far less than anticipated. Fuel- and time-conscious airlines shun it because it is farther from terminals than the older runways.
In February 2007, airport officials announced the largest renovation in the airport's history: a $70 million effort to overhaul the Main Terminal called "The Airport Experience Project." It was set back slightly by the 2011 tornado damage, but as of July 2013, it is in Phase 2.
- The domed ceiling has been completely restored with a new acoustic coating and a programmable LED lighting system.
- A faster, quieter baggage carousel system has been installed.
- The Main and East terminals were renamed Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and signs throughout the airport were redone to reflect the change and improve wayfinding.
- Eight restaurants and food vendors were added to the terminal. In December 2011, the renovation of the A concourse was completed with new bathrooms, flooring, lighting, and gate signs.
- Security checkpoints are being reconstructed to be more integrated and include new screening technology.
- A terrazzo floor will be installed throughout the terminal.
- Art glass screens, designed by St. Louis-area artists will be installed throughout the terminal.
- A dedicated performance area, dubbed "St. Louis Stage," will be added.
- Restrooms throughout the terminal will be renovated; new restrooms will be added to the baggage area.
- Entrances to the lower level of Terminal 1 will be redesigned.
Incidents and accidents
- On August 5, 1936, Chicago and Southern Flight 4, a Lockheed 10 Electra headed for Chicago, crashed after takeoff killing all 8 passengers and crew. The pilot became disoriented in fog.
- On August 1, 1943, during a demonstration flight of an "all St. Louis-built glider", a WACO CG-4A-RO, 42-78839, built by sub-contractor Robertson Aircraft Company, loses its starboard wing due to a defective wing strut support, plummets vertically to the ground at Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri, killing all on board, including St. Louis Mayor William D. Becker, Maj. William B. Robertson and Harold Krueger, both of Robertson Aircraft, Thomas Dysart, president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, Max Doyne, director of public utilities, Charles Cunningham, department comptroller, Henry Mueller, St. Louis Court presiding judge, Lt. Col. Paul Hazleton, pilot Capt. Milton C. Klugh, and co-pilot/mechanic PFC Jack W. Davis, of the USAAF 71st Troop Carrier Squadron. The failed component had been manufactured by Robertson subcontractor Gardner Metal Products Company, of St. Louis, who, ironically, had been a casket maker.
- On February 28, 1966, astronauts Elliot See and Charles Bassett – the original crew of the Gemini 9 mission – were killed in the crash of their T-38 trainer while attempting to land at Lambert Field in bad weather. The plane crashed into the same McDonnell Aircraft building (adjacent to the airport) where their spacecraft was being assembled.
- Ozark Air Lines Flight 809 – Ozark Air Lines Flight 809 was a regularly scheduled flight from Nashville, Tennessee, to St. Louis, Missouri, with four intermediate stops. On July 23, 1973, while on the approach to land at St. Louis International Airport, it crashed near the University of Missouri – St. Louis, killing 38 of the 44 persons aboard. Windshear was cited as the cause. A tornado had been reported at Ladue, Missouri about the time of the accident but the National Weather Service did not confirm that there was a tornado.
- On January 9, 1984, Douglas C-47B C-GSCA of Skycraft Air Transport crashed on take-off, killing one of its two crew members. The aircraft was on an international cargo flight to Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada. Both engines lost power shortly after take-off. The aircraft had been fueled with JET-A instead of 100LL.
- On November 22, 1994, TWA Flight 427 collided with a Cessna 441, N441 km, at the intersection of runway 30R and taxiway Romeo. The MD-82 was taking off for Denver and had accelerated through 80 knots when the collision occurred. The MD-82 sustained substantial damage during the collision. The Cessna 441, operated by Superior Aviation, was destroyed. The pilot and the passenger were killed. PROBABLE CAUSE: "The Cessna 441 pilot’s mistaken belief that his assigned departure runway was runway 30R, which resulted in his undetected entrance onto runway 30R, which was being used by the MD-82 for its departure. Contributing to the accident was the lack of Automatic Terminal Information Service and other air traffic control (ATC) information regarding the occasional use of runway 31 for departure. The installation and utilization of Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE-3) and particularly ASDE-3 enhanced with the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS), could have prevented this accident."
Lambert in fiction
- In the "Airport" episode of the television show Newsradio, bad weather keeps Bill and Dave at Lambert for the entire show.
- In "The Airport" episode of the television show Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine leave from Lambert.
- In the "Meg and Quagmire" episode of the television show Family Guy, Glenn Quagmire tells a story about landing at Lambert.
- In the 1986 film Manhunter, FBI agents fly into Lambert during their pursuit of the killer.
- In the 1987 film Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Neal Page (Steve Martin) attempts to rent a car at Lambert, with disastrous (and profanity-laden) consequences.
- Part of the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs was shot at Lambert.
- In the 2003 film Anger Management, Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) takes a flight to Lambert.
- Part of the 2006 film The Lucky Ones, set in Austin, Texas, was shot at Lambert.
- One scene from the 2009 film The Informant!, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was filmed at Lambert.
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