It wouldn't be the first time an airline has tried to utilize the hundred million dollar alternate St. Louis airport (just east of the city in Illinois). Pan Am failed here, any thoughts on whether this could work?
St. Clair County OKs Air Florida bond plan
By Norm Parish Of the Post-Dispatch
01/27/2003 11:03 PM
MidAmerica Airport in St. Clair County.
A New York-based holding company moved closer to launching a new airline from MidAmerica Airport under a $150 million bond plan approved Monday night by the St. Clair County Board.
Air Florida Airways Corp. wants to use the bonds to help start passenger and cargo flight service at the troubled airport in Mascoutah. The County Board approved an initial industrial revenue bond plan. Later, Air Florida would have to get approval from county officials for final issuance of the bonds.
Under the plan, Air Florida would start flights in June, serving at least five cities, including Chicago at Midway Airport, company President Joseph Luchetti said in an earlier telephone interview.
County officials said that in the event of a failure, the investors, not St. Clair County, would be liable. Officials said revenue bonds were commonplace in the county, adding that since 1998, about 10 have been issued or are in the process of being issued.
For example, similar bonds were used to help with an academic center at McKendree College and have been initially approved for a new hotel, garage and other development by the City Centre Plaza Development Corp. in East St. Louis, officials said.
"Tonight, we formalized our relationship with Air Florida Airways," said Tim Cantwell, director of MidAmerica Airport.
St. Clair County Board Chairman John Baricevic was optimistic.
"We hope very much that (Air Florida) is successful," he said. "We will give them whatever support that we can."
Some airline experts have said that Air Florida could have a difficult time putting together a deal. The airline industry has recently been plagued by financial crises, and the carrier's success would depend on its ability to sell its financial package that it develops with investors.
Air Florida officials have been tight-lipped about how money from the bonds would be spent, citing competitive reasons. The carrier may buy an existing airline.
County officials said the airline would probably use the money for an office facility and equipment.
The company wants to provide passenger, cargo and chartered air service, initially using a Boeing fleet of three MD-80s, a 757 and 767, Air Florida's Luchetti said.
The firm, which was incorporated in Delaware a few years ago, hopes to hire 350 employees within 60 days, many coming from the St. Louis area.
MidAmerica has struggled since opening in 1998. Its first regularly scheduled passenger service ended in December 2001, when Pan American Airlines shut down flights there. Multi-Aero Inc., which has attempted to launch flights to Chicago from MidAmerica, has had only limited flight service at the airport.
In other action, the County Board approved a $1.8 million plan to build 10 apartments at Scott Air Force Base's Patriots Landing and granted $20,000 for a study coordinating fiber optic use in the area. The other communities participating in the study are St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County.