ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Five weeks after the Good Friday tornado ripped up Lambert Airport, there’s still no total price tag put on the damage and there’s no quick-fix available.
Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says it could take 9-to-12 months to fix Concourse C and 4-to-6 months to replace all the broken windows in Terminal 1.
Looking frustrated with the pace of repairs, Hamm-Niebruegge told members of the airport board that Concourse C needs a new roof before work can even begin on the interior. And the windows shattered in Terminal 1 must be special-ordered to meet post-9/11 building codes to protect passengers from explosions and flying glass bits.
“The windows that were in there complied with a different code than there is today,” she says. “Those had been grandfathered windows.”
When asked if the longer-than-originally expected timetable will hurt airport revenue, Hamm-Niebruegge says their insurance policy covers lost business.
The Airport Director also updated the board on the efforts to set up a Chinese air cargo hub at Lambert.
Despite the failure of the Missouri Legislature to pass a China Hub tax break package worth $350 million, Hamm-Niebruegge says the Chinese are still moving forward with plans to at least establish “three-to-four-flights a week here.”
The head of a China cargo airlines visited Lambert last week, along with a technical team. During a three-day visit, they sought information on the ground handlers at Lambert and discussed the failure of the legislature to pass the China Hub tax break, which is designed to encourage construction of warehouse and cargo facilities.
When asked by reporters if the lack of a tax break package is a deal killer, Hamm-Niebruegge says she’s uncertain.
“I don’t know about that. I think time will tell on that. It was obviously of great concern to them that it hasn’t happened.”
She explained that the Chinese may not what to start what St. Louis can’t finish.
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