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MidAmerica Airport adopts incentive program to encourage new destination additions


MidAmerica St. Louis Airport (IBJ file photo).

In order to allow MidAmerica St. Louis Airport to grow and continue to thrive as a location for passenger flight service, the St. Clair County Public Building Commission has approved the adoption of an incentive program designed to encourage the addition of new destinations.

As recommended by the director of the airport, Bryan Johnson, with support from Jack Penning a consultant with a company called Volaire Aviation which is based in Portland, Oregon, the program has two basic objectives as outlined in the materials associated with it that were approved by the PBC: to add non-stop service between BLV (the aviation terminology used to describe this airport because of its proximity to Belleville) and currently unserved markets and to make BLV a desirable airport for low-cost and ultra-low-cost airlines.

This incentive program is not entirely new as the original version of it focused only on domestic flights within the United States but the most recently adopted scenario calls for the addition of international flights, something which is on the horizon for BLV and has been talked about for the past couple of years as a result of an agreement forged between its primary passenger carrier, Allegiant, and one that provides service to destinations in Mexico.

Among the comments from Penning concerning this matter when it was discussed was one where he stated, “Anything less than this program and we’re not competitive (with other airports).”

As featured in this program, an incentive for an airline can be any fee reduction for servicing a specific airport, a fee waiver, or for the airport to allow the use of its revenue by an airline for promotional expenses.

The incentive packages concerning international destinations are broken down into what are referred to as short-haul and long-haul categories, both year-round and seasonally, to new destinations. Those providing year-round service qualify with at least one departure per week while the seasonal service concerns any that does not operate for at least 48 weeks during its first year of operation out of BLV but still offers at least one flight per week during those times it is in service.  

Short-haul flights are classified as those which operate non-stop from BLV to other areas of North America and Central America including the Caribbean with up to three destinations in Mexico anticipated to be the first of these involving the St. Clair County airport. Long-haul flights are considered to be those anywhere else in the world. 

For the international year-round service, in the short-haul category, the county, as owner and operator of the airport, will provide $100,000 for marketing and advertising during the first 12 months it takes place at BLV then $75,000 for the second year. For the short-haul seasonal flights, the incentive for marketing and advertising is $75,000 for the first year and $50,000 for the second. 

In the case of long-haul flights scheduled to reach new destinations, using the same basic criteria, the marketing and advertising support has been set at $150,000 for the first year and $100,000 for the following year. 

For the seasonal long-haul carriers, again not operating for at least 48 weeks during the first year but offering a minimum of once-a-week departures during the times they are in use, the county’s incentive is set at $100,000 for year one and $75,000 the following year. 

For domestic flights on any new route that is offered for the entire 12 months on the calendar, the carrier will be receiving $100,000 for marketing and advertising the first year while providing $50,000 for the same purpose during the first year for seasonally operated routes provided that they are offered at least 12 weeks, both being required to have flights at least once a week.

Stipulated in the incentive program agreements is that the advertising and marketing must contain the name of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport and specify the new route. The airport reserves the right to approve all such marketing materials for the service provided to qualify for the incentive reimbursement or the county can create the advertising itself if both parties agree on it.

Further offered as an incentive to attract flights to new destinations from BLV is a 100 percent pro-rated landing fee waiver plus 100 percent waivers of terminal space rental and aircraft apron parking space charges. These fee waivers are good for 730 consecutive calendar days or, in the case of seasonal service, the first two seasons of it. 

Airlines providing services to destinations already served by BLV cannot qualify for the incentives. The PBC’s legal counsel, Bernie Ysursa, had reviewed the incentive program prior to its passage.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story also appears in the February 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.)


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