WASHINGTON, D.C. – The presidents of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and National Air Transportation Association (NATA) have urged key members of the U.S. Senate to forgo legislation that could close St. Clair Municipal Airport (K39) near St. Louis, and instead follow established Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) procedures for the potential closure of airports that have accepted federal grants.
In a Sept. 16 letter, the presidents of the four leading general aviation organizations told U.S. Senators John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, that a bill in their committee could improperly close the airport.
“As you know, this legislation would close the St. Clair Regional Airport, in St. Clair, Missouri,” the letter states. “As representatives of the general aviation community, we have serious concerns about closing and further limiting access to general aviation airports across the country, especially through legislation.”
U.S. Senate Bill 2759 would, “release the City of St. Clair, Missouri, from all restrictions, conditions, and limitations on the use, encumbrance, conveyance, and closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport.” It was passed by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on a voice vote and next will go before the full Senate. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced the legislation.
The City of St. Clair has sought to close the airport and make that land available for commercial development, according to news reports. The FAA is conducting a review of the city’s request to close the field since the city has previously accepted FAA airport improvement funds. The airport has been in operation since 1965.