St. Louis Flights Resume as Airport Opens After Storm
April 25, 2011, 10:52 AM EDT By Natalie Doss and Dan Hart
(Corrects ninth paragraph of story published April 24 to specify that Charlie Dooley is county executive for St. Louis County and to attribute comment to the airport director regarding storm-related injuries.)
April 24 (Bloomberg) — Southwest Airlines Co. plans full operations today and AirTran Holdings Inc.’s AirTran Airways has resumed some service at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in St. Louis after a tornado forced the airport to close.
The airport opened for as many as nine arriving flights last night, Lambert-St. Louis said in a statement on its website.
AirTran’s first flight, Flt. 795 is set to arrive in St. Louis from Atlanta at 9:27 a.m. local time, spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.
“We were able to relocate to Concourse B from Concourse C overnight,” Graham-Weaver said in a telephone interview. The Orlando-based carrier operates 11 flights to and from St. Louis daily, she said. Four of those flights are canceled today.
Southwest plans to operate its full schedule today after bringing in some aircraft, the carrier said in an e-mail yesterday. AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, Southwest and AirTran had canceled flights after the facility was damaged.
Terminal 2 and the airport’s airfield are “fully functional,” said Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the airport director. Most damage was done at Terminal 1, Concourse C, where American and AirTran run their operations, she said.
The airport may be operating at full capacity by midweek, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said during a televised press conference carried on CNN.
The storm hit on the evening of April 22. It broke most of the glass windows and doors and tore off sections of the roof at Concourse C of Lambert’s Terminal 1, according to Jeff Lea, a spokesman for the airport. Light poles, signs, trees and fences were damaged and “some vehicles were turned over,” Lea said in an interview.
No one in St. Louis was killed during the storm, Charlie Dooley, County Executive for the county of St. Louis said at the conference. Five people were taken to a local emergency room with minor injuries and all were released, said Hamm-Niebruegge.
One American airliner experienced a crosswind of 70 miles per hour (113 kilometers per hour) while landing during the storm, said Ed Martell, a spokesman for American. A Southwest plane on the ground was damaged when a belt loader hit the aircraft.
Lambert isn’t a hub for any of the major U.S. carriers, which tempers the blow to the nation’s air-traffic system. Southwest accounted for 44 percent of St. Louis passengers for the 12 months ended in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. American follows with 20 percent, and Delta Air Lines Inc. has nine percent.
As many as 12.3 million passengers passed through Lambert last year, said Lea. About 256 departures daily and almost the same number of arrivals move through the airport, served by 13 carriers flying to 61 destinations, according to the airport’s website.
The top destination for flights from Lambert are Chicago, a hub for American and United Continental Holdings Inc.; Atlanta, the home base for Delta; and Dallas-Fort Worth, where American has its headquarters, according to BTS data.
–With assistance from Mike Harrison in London. Editors: Sylvia Wier, Theo Mullen
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Hart in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; Natalie Doss in New York at email@example.com
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