FAA puts city's request to close airport on hold

January 3, 2013

The FAA has provided the Missouri aviation community a post-Christmas gift: a Dec. 28 letter to officials in St. Clair, Mo., that puts on hold the city’s five-year effort to kill its regional airport.

St. Clair and its mayor, Ron Blum, have waged an aggressive campaign to close St. Clair Regional Airport. Blum has sought assistance from members of Congress as well as Missouri state legislators. At the same time, tenants have been squeezed with higher hangar rental rates while the city refused to maintain the facilities. Grass has been left unmowed, taxiways unswept, hangars unmaintained, and burned-out runway lights left unfixed.

AOPA and local pilots fought back, opposing the city’s efforts since 2008. 

In its latest letter to the city, the FAA notified it that the request for closure is on hold until the city lives up to its obligations under federal grant assurances and resolves formal and informal complaints brought against the city by local pilots.

“This is an excellent turn of events,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president for airport advocacy. “The city has been trying to circumvent the federal process and completely ignore their contractual obligations to the FAA.”

The airport, situated immediately adjacent to Interstate 44, could be a tremendous asset to the city if it would get behind it. Unfortunately, the city has received bad advice from the consultant it has retained to gain FAA approval for the closure, Dunn said.

AOPA will continue to work with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the FAA to ensure the airport remains open and assessable to the public.