WSJ takes note of dormant MidAmerica Airport

Steve Korris Aug. 11, 2011, 12:43pm


NEW YORK CITY – St. Clair County's empty airport attracted national attention on Aug. 8, as the Wall Street Journal described its desolation at the top of page 9A.

Reporter Susan Carey visited MidAmerica and wrote that "birds fly inside the sleek white metal and glass atrium of the deserted passenger terminal."

"Airline check-in desks, rental car counters, and luggage carousels sit unused," Carey wrote.

Her story wrapped around a picture she took, four columns wide and dead as a door nail.

"The parking lot is sprouting weeds, and St. Clair County taxpayers have to cover more than $1 million a year in operating losses," she wrote.

"Four passenger airlines that started flights at MidAmerica went bust or pulled out.

"The entire project cost $313 million, some of which was borne by the Pentagon because MidAmerica was built as a joint use airport adjacent to Scott Air Force Base."

She wrote that the military operates about 14,000 flights a year out of MidAmerica.

She wrote that county taxpayers are on the hook for about $60 million in bonds.

County board member Craig Hubbard told her closing the airport is "something we have to do, if not now, very shortly."

County board member Ed Cockrell told her, "The operational deficit is the part that kills us."

County board chairman Mark Kern told her, "We are trying to bring MidAmerica to a break even position."

He told her improvements made to Scott helped keep the base open.

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