ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-“Two great airlines, one great future”. That was the phrase of the day ten years ago today, as American Airlines completed its purchase of St. Louis based TWA.
American CEO Don Carty promised to make St. Louis a mid-continent hub, relieving congestion at Dallas and Chicago.
University of Missouri St. Louis Center for Transportation Studies Assistant Director, Dr. Daniel Rust, believes Carty wanted to keep a hub in St. Louis, but the September 11th terror attacks and economic recession made that impossible, “It really became clear that there really was no need for a hub, a major hub, in St. Louis in the post 9-11 era.”
So the number of flights in to and out of Lambert Airport was cut in half and thousands of St. Louis based airline workers lost their jobs.
RCGA President Dick Fleming says the reduction in air service, has put the region behind when competing for businesses with some cities, “If you’re going to stack us up with Denver or Atlanta, and air service was the dominant consideration, we’d have to work hard to offset that.”
But Fleming says, “Of the 45 or 50 companies that are currently looking at St. Louis, and in which we are on the short list…we compete favorably.”
Fleming cites Unisys, which recently chose to bring 300 new jobs to downtown St. Louis, “Transit access as well as air access were two considerations that they evaluated, and we beat out, in that case, St. Lake City and Minneapolis/St. Paul.”
St. Louis Sports Commission President Frank Viverito, who competes with other cities to attract sporting events to St. Louis, says having a hub would be nice, but not having one doesn’t hurt as much as you might think, “Check the cities that we’re competing against so very often, places like Indianapolis, San Antonio, New Orleans those cities don’t have hubs either.”
Viverito adds that American Airlines has gone to bat to help St. Louis attract events, “I don’t now that any sports commission in the country can have a better partnership with any airline than we have with American Airlines in St. Louis.”
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