ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Privatizing St. Louis Lambert Airport could force flyers to deal with turbulence for decades, according to an expert. Aldermen are debating, behind closed doors, the first contract in the process.

“The process seems like they’ve really got their finger on the scale, once they get this contract out the pressure to privatize it is gong to be even more intense,” says Donald Cohen, executive director of ‘The Public Interest’.

Cohen says that’s because the contractor would only get paid if privatization eventually happens. If it does, he says the city and region would lose the ability to have much say in how the international airport is run. He says that the facts, including recent bond rating upgrades, indicate that Lambert is already well-run.

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia says the current plan to hire a consultant who would only get paid if the city goes through with privatizing the airport is biased.

“I can’t imagine in what world you can be unbiased as a consultant if you know you’re not going to get paid unless you recommend privatization,” she says.

City Counselor Mike Garvin says it’s just a proposal at this point.

“The process is in its infancy, nothing’s happened yet. People are overreacting, I think,” he says.

Garvin says any final deal would need approval from aldermen, the board of estimate and apportionment, and a majority of the airlines at Lambert.

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