Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lambert Seeking London Flights

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lambert Seeking London Flights

Article excerpt

Travelers seeking a nonstop flight from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to London were left at the gate more than a decade ago.

Now, Lambert officials are seeking to resurrect transatlantic flights between St. Louis and London through British Airways, officials said this week.

Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge said the idea was still in the discussion stage. St. Louis made a pitch for service before British Airways selected Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. Flights between London and Austin began in March on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

British Airways has made it known that as the carrier grows the 787 fleet, it is seeking entry into markets that lack major hub airports, Hamm-Niebruegge said.

"It's at the discussion stage," she said after briefing airport commissioners.

Hamm-Niebruegge said there was a potential that British Airways might want to bring another U.S. city on board in 2015, "so we are gearing up trying to make sure that we've got as much data as we can."

The airline, she added, has "made it clear" that the market will need to support its sale of more-lucrative business class seats.

Lambert's current list of nonstop international destinations is a short one. Air Canada Jazz flies to Toronto, and there are charter flights to Cancun, Mexico, and to the Dominican Republic.

American Airlines, which bought TWA's assets out of bankruptcy in 2001, canceled London flights from St. Louis by 2003.

In an email, a British Airways spokeswoman said only that the carrier regularly reviewed its network to "look for growth opportunities." Beyond the Austin service, the airline has no "news to share" about U.S. markets.

Former Lambert Director Richard Hrabko, now an airport commissioner, pointed out that other Midwest airports have aggressively pursued European service something once thought unthinkable for medium-sized hub airports such as St. Louis'.

"The problem we had in the past ... was that we were too far away from Europe for a 757 and didn't have enough passenger traffic for a 767, and that was always the roadblock in getting European service," Hrabko said. …

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