An industry group led by AOPA is asking key senators not to pursue legislation that would close Missouri’s St. Clair Regional Airport (K39) near St. Louis.
In a Sept. 16 letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Committee Ranking Member John Thune (R-S.D.), the industry groups cite “serious concerns” about closing or limiting access to general aviation airports and ask the senators not to pursue Senate Bill 2759. That legislation, which was introduced in July by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), passed out of committee on a voice vote Sept. 17 and will go to the full Senate.
The letter says that, rather than continue to pursue a legislative solution, the FAA’s established process, created under the Airport Improvement Program grant assurances, should be allowed to go forward. That process allows the FAA to make a determination regarding closure of airports like St. Clair that have received federal improvement program funds.
“We’re concerned any time there are efforts to close a general aviation airport,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “GA airports are important community assets and are virtually impossible to replace once they are lost. The FAA’s procedures are designed to protect taxpayer investments in airports and take a wide range of issues into consideration before allowing the closure of federally obligated airports.”
In addition to Baker, the letter was signed by the leaders of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association, and the National Business Aviation Association.
The city council of St. Clair has sought to close the airport and make that land available for commercial development, according to news reports. While the FAA has begun reviewing requests to close the field, the agency has not yet made a final determination about the airport’s future.