St. Louis airport to be fully operational by midweek

Storm-damaged airport equipment is seen at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The airport is closed today after tornadoes hit St. Louis last night, causing extensive damage.

JEREMY HOBSON: The Saint Louis airport has reopened for departures and arrivals after a tornado ripped off part of the roof Friday night. Amazingly, no one was killed though several people were taken to the hospital with injuries.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh is here with more on this story. Good morning.

EVE TROEH: Good morning.

HOBSON: Well first of all bring us up to date on the situation right now at the St. Louis airport?

TROEH: Well airport officials expect St. Louis will be back to 85 percent capacity today -- maybe a little surprising. But workers are still boarding up windows that blew out in the main terminal. Part of the concourse that had its roof torn off is still closed. And this will all of course cost millions of dollars to fix. And the city's expecting another storm front today that could slow down the cleanup. But the delays in St. Louis haven't thrown off air traffic around the country as much as you might expect.

HOBSON: Yeah -- I mean when I think of St. Louis airport, I think TWA -- which of course doesn't exist any more.

TROEH: Yes, I flew it often out of Lambert. In 2001 American took over TWA. St. Louis lost priority to American's own hub in Chicago. But it's still an important city landmark, you know? At night it's got this light that comes out these huge arc windows and it's the modernist wonder. But the city of St. Louis has two-and-a-half times the number of people in the 50s -- actually I should reverse that. It has two-and-a-half times less people than it had when the airport was built in the 50s. And just in the past decade, American passenger traffic went down by half in St. Louis. So one way St. Louis has been trying to cope is turning an unused part of it into a cargo hub. They want to take in stuff from China. But there's been a fight in state government over spending the money to do that.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Eve Troeh, bringing us up to date on the St. Louis airport. Thanks Eve.

TROEH: Thank you.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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