airports Blog Featured St. Louis STL STLAvDay Tour

St. Louis Airport Gives Aviation Enthusiasts a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Airport Operations

The STL AvDay crew watches as a Southwest Boeing 737 departs (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

As crowds gathered downtown Saturday to have fun the St. Louis Blues profitable their first Stanley Cup, AvGeeks would have their own first-time occasion to rejoice 13 miles to the northwest at the St. Louis-Lambert International Airport as the airport hosted the primary edition of STL AvDay. A behind-the-scenes tour of the airport, 20 plus friends have been chosen from a social media contest in Might and were given a three-hour tour of the airfield and a lunch with the airport operations director.

Touring the Airfield

The tour would begin inside Terminal 1’s closed Concourse B, which the airport has became a multi-purpose facility that includes a crew training area and rental area for wedding ceremony and public events. After gathering at 10 a.m., the teams have been cut up into three sections which would view the airport’s operations middle, emergency response bus and baggage dealing with system.

Being put into group A, my group can be taking a tour of the bus first. A quick walk down the darkish hallway of Concourse B and down a flight of stairs would take us inside the St. Louis Command Bus. Contained in the bus, the airport has outfitted it with a number of telephone stations for representatives of the airline, emergency medical providers (EMS), airport rescue and hearth preventing department (ARFF) and the airport with each station coming with a charging port, telephone and small desk for the employees to use.

The bus additionally comes with options for everybody to use together with entry to all the airport’s cameras, a further rotating digital camera 15 ft above the bus, a microwave, a refrigerator and walls which are lined with whiteboards to shortly write down any necessary info. The airport says that the bus is used at least once a month throughout drills to ensure it is properly tested and individuals are accustomed to utilizing the bus’s techniques.

A look at the forward portion of the STL Airport Command Bus (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

As soon as off the bus, our mini-group would return into Concourse B before climbing the steps the other course and heading up into the airport operations tower. Located on the top of Concourse B, the airport operations tower has a view of Runways 12L/30R and 12R/30L as well as the north dealing with gates of Concourses A, B and C. The crew explained how airport operations are run, watching the weather by means of a number of providers and using the emergency alert system for the airport if wanted.

Because the cut up group tour accomplished, our group returned to the bottom degree and would board a bus for the luggage claim system. Situated beneath the Minoru Yamasaki designed central constructing, the airport’s baggage declare system is separated into two sections for the Transportation Security Administration and the airlines.

For the TSA, three explosive detection machines and three bag looking stations give luggage the inexperienced mild earlier than proceeding to one of the six departure baggage carousels. Every major airline gets its own carousel in St. Louis, with the only one not getting a Terminal 1 carousel being Southwest Airways, which operates out of the distant Terminal 2.

A look from the Operations Tower because the morning storm system clears out (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

Behind the scenes, the airport is full of previous signs of previous operators. Signs and stickers level out previous airways similar to AirTran Airways, Northwest Airways, and the venerable Trans World Airways.

Again on the bus, we returned to Concourse B but would stay on the bus as the opposite two mini-groups would emerge and we might take the bus to the opposite end of the sector for a tour of the airport’s airport rescue and hearth preventing departing building. The bus would give passengers on the right-side good views of American and Southwest aircraft at Concourse C and Terminal 2 whereas the left aspect of the bus acquired taxiway and runway views.

With the AA MD-80 retiring soon, the aircraft was a must-see through the bus tour (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

As soon as we arrived at the north aspect ARFF constructing, the massive tour group can be given free rein over how much they needed to see. Attendees might climb inside the ARFF vans and could roam around bay areas of the firehouse as long as they remained within eyesight of one of the tour’s many guides.

ARFF Truck 45 inside awaiting its subsequent mission (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

St. Louis is exclusive in being a medium-size hub airport with two emergency response stations. The hearth crews explained that because the Federal Aviation Administration requires such brief hearth response occasions for aircraft in misery, the airport’s development of Runway 11/29 in the early 2000s pressured them to additionally construct a firehouse nearer to the brand new runway to satisfy the time requirement.

Following the hearth station tour, we have been back aboard the bus and moved over to the Echo Pad to view departures on Runway 30L. We have been handled to a small but worthwhile quantity of exits including an American A319, two Southwest 737-700s and a GoJet CRJ-700. Between departures, the tour group might additionally indulge within the airport’s snow removing automobiles which had been saved on the Echo Pad.

Snow gear of all sizes and shapes have been parked on Echo Pad for AvGeeks to view (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)A Delta CRJ-700 crosses Concourse B and the management tower (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)With over 60 % of the St. Louis market share, we have been inevitably going to see a Southwest 737 throughout our tour (Photograph: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurtry)

While Runway 30L would see large quantities of use, the parallel Runway 30R can be closed for AvDay as the runway is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar resurfacing undertaking. The airport hopes to complete this undertaking soon as it forces the airfield to use Runway 11/29 in the interim which may lengthen arrival and departure occasions.

After a group photograph out on the Echo Pad, we reboarded the bus and returned to the terminal, taking a comparable path to our outbound leg to the ARFF station with the left aspect of the bus now getting gate aspect views and the correct aspect getting taxiway and runway views.

Trying to the Future

Once the tour returned to Concourse B, we returned to our unique start line for a lunch and assembly with Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

Airport Director Hamm-Hiebruegge started with going over where the St. Louis airport is presently, priding her Midwestern airport for a four % improve in seats that ballooned St. Louis’s seats provided yearly to 19,501,474 within the 2018 calendar yr. With this improve in seats got here a fair higher improve in passengers, with 2018 seeing a 5.9 % improve to 15,632,586 passengers.

But the airport’s progress isn’t singular, with Hamm-Niebruegge displaying that enplanements grew 5.eight % throughout 2018 while connecting enplanements would grow 18.0 %. These days, connecting passengers account for 22.9 % of all St. Louis fliers.

Though the City of St. Louis owns the airport, the airport is predicted to show enough revenue to stand on its own. The airport director went over each the airline operations profit of landing fees, gate fees and one-time usage charges in addition to non-airline revenue that comes from their five parking buildings, concessions and newsstands gross sales. Moreover, St. Louis was one in every of 12 airports to grandfather a gross receipt tax cost plan, paying $6,688,428 to the town in 2018.

The airport director additionally delved into prices of landing fees for the airways and why the airport has been pushing for extra cargo visitors for St. Louis. For 2019, touchdown charges for St. Louis are $6.61/1000 multiplied by the plane’s frame weight in pounds. By inviting bigger plane, the airport makes extra financial achieve since bigger aircraft have greater body weights. Current cargo operations are from FedEx, UPS and DHL which the airport hopes to broaden in the following years to worldwide cargo operators to increase both airport income and create new markets for native Missourians.

One factor that Hamm-Niebruegge prides her workforce on is restructuring St. Louis’s costs after the disbanding of the TWA/American hub within the 2000s. This was clearly shown of their value per enplaned passenger numbers, which have decreased from has high as $13.76 in 2013 to only $eight.87 final yr. This drop additionally places St. Louis under the typical value per enplaned passenger number for medium hub airports, which for 2018 was $9.07.

In recent times, the airport’s strategic plan has targeted on providing a more distinctive feel to the airport because it moves in a new emblem. The airport’s 2015-2020 objective was “to connect our region with the world” and has been happy with how some elements of the undertaking have accomplished.

A method the airport has revitalized its image is through a new branding program. While many airports are likely to draw back from using purple in logos resulting from its capacity to draw our frustration and anger, St. Louis has embraced the primary colour and sees it as a method to stand out extra. Through the use of a purple and yellow colors scheme in addition to finding ways to include “STL” in phrases, the airport believes that this can create a constructive and lasting picture for travelers both from and passing by means of St. Louis.

The airport has also appeared at some quality of life modifications with the addition of charging stations, ADA stanchions, LED lights in all terminals by way of a cope with Amren and water bottle filling stations that have all been met with constructive responses. The airport plans to proceed this development by adding eight to nine more water bottle filling stations and adding a signal to the doorway of the airfield to develop into extra seen for highway visitors.

The airport continues to deal with the need for brand spanking new eating places particularly in Terminal 2 with a Three Kings Public House open near Gate E33 and a Dunkins Categorical getting into at Gate E40. Despite already having native brands like Schlafly and the Pasta House, Hamm-Niebruegge noted that the current development of including local eating places to the nearby airport has been thought-about and all options are being thought-about for future tenants.

As for giant tasks, some are still in the planning part whereas others have been given the green mild. The airport will begin development on a new $50 million gasoline farm on the north end of the airfield however the airlines have agreed to fund the undertaking. Other overhaul tasks for St. Louis embrace a new bus terminal with a grab-and-go restaurant and remodeling the pathing of the landside arrivals degree of Terminal 2 to include a pull off for automobiles to select up passengers and a new entrance to the parking garage from Lambert Worldwide Boulevard.

The airport director sees another long term tasks starting to be analyzed. Following the reopening of Gates C28-C30 in 2019, the airport has started to look into renovating and modernizing the remaining C gates and the 11 D gates in Terminal 1. The $25 million challenge is one thing the airport want to begin quickly with Southwest probably wanting at one other Terminal 2 enlargement within the near future. The airport can also be trying to transfer the Federal Inspection Station from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 but costs are still being calculated for that undertaking.

As for airline progress, Hamm-Niebruegge says that she is proud of the growth the airport has seen over the current years. She want to see larger airlines increase their present routes to consists of service greater than a few times a day and thinks that low-cost carriers like Frontier and Southwest will help present these further flights. Welcoming all airlines to grow St. Louis service, she vows that the airfield won’t go down another dehubbing street as it did with American and TWA. Apart from that, she additionally says that Europe remains a high priority and that they are still in talks with airlines about 2020 service following the collapse of WOW air. Domestically, the director specifically listed off Indianapolis, Louisville and Albuquerque as places she want to see return to the airport’s nonstop route map.

And with AvGeks in attendance, Hamm-Niebruegge also determined to share some insight into any planespotting tasks. The airport has started wanting in a few potential sites for a planespotting park with the perimeter street being thought-about for a new website after the earlier recognizing area off of Lindbergh Drive was removed for Runway 11/29.

While the director hopes to see a park develop into a actuality, she doesn’t promise something and says each development worth and the demand for a quality park St. Louis may be pleased with are limiting elements on if the location will get built. She hopes that STL AvDay was a big success and if the airport sees constructive suggestions and time of their 2020 schedule they want to try and do one other STL AvDay in the future.

Ian McMurtry

Ian McMurtry

Although Ian McMurtry was by no means originally an avgeek, he did take pleasure in watching US Airways plane across western Pennsylvania within the early 2000s. He lived alongside the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of surroundings within the mid-2000s noticed him shift extra of an interest into aviation. He would ultimately categorical this passion by taking flying classes in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now dwelling in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in school majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in enterprise administration at Wichita State University.

Ian McMurtry

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