Traveling in and out of St. Louis usually is not too difficult when it comes to flying. If you’re looking to fly internationally, usually Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York come to mind. Well now St. Louis is working to attract international flights, and is competing with Cincinnati for British Airways’ next U.S. market.
Other cities will likely be competing for the same flights, and Hamm-Niebruegge estimated a package of between $3 million and $5 million would be competitive. Airline industry publication Anna.Aero reported in December that St. Louis may be contending with Cincinnati for British Airways’ next U.S. market.
Lambert would require an airline to commit to two years of service before offering the incentive package, she said. The hope is the subsidy would let the route become established enough to stand on its own in a smaller market.
Though some airlines have left other smaller markets after the subsidies run out, she said international routes stayed in Austin, Texas and in Nashville. Those are smaller metro areas than St. Louis, but they have exceeded St. Louis in airport passengers after adding international flights in recent years, Hamm-Niebruegge said. They are also much faster-growing regions and both snagged routes St. Louis was trying to win.
About 300 people a day on average fly to Europe from St. Louis, with the largest proportion going to London, Hamm-Niebruegge said. St. Louis also tends to have more business travelers, which are airlines’ “bread and butter.”
“I have no doubt we will make a legacy international carrier successful in this market,” Hamm-Niebruegge said.
The Port Authority had previously committed to the $1.5 million in assistance as part of an effort to establish an international route. It committed another $600,000 for the short-lived Wow Air route. Neither of the subsidies were paid. Airport officials wanted to make sure the new Port Authority board, now made up of completely new members, still supported the effort.