Building a new, world-class airport terminal is needed to compete for the jobs of tomorrow, business leaders say 

Key Points 

  • Supporting over 102,000 jobs and more than $27B in annual revenue, St. Louis Lambert International Airport is one of the metro’s biggest and most critical economic assets. 

  • New airport and Boeing investment could add $5 billion in annual revenue and 30,000 jobs to the St. Louis metro by 2032. 

  • 80% of similarly sized metros are investing in new airports. 

  • No state or local taxpayer dollars will be used for the new, single terminal project. 

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Lambert International Airport could add nearly $5 billion in annual economic impact and support nearly 30,000 new jobs in the metro by 2032, according to a new report released today by Greater St. Louis, Inc. The increased impact would result from significant growth in the metro’s aerospace manufacturing industry led by The Boeing Company’s investments on and adjacent to the airport campus and from increased traffic through a new, state-of-the-art terminal. 

“Transforming our airport is a top priority for St. Louis’ business community,” said David Kemper, Executive Chairman of Commerce Bancshares Inc. and Greater St. Louis, Inc. board member. “A new airport is critical to meeting the current and future needs of our metro, making us more competitive, increasing economic growth, and expanding our global connectivity.” 

The airport is already one of the St. Louis metro’s most critical single economic assets, accounting for over $27.5 billion in economic impact and supporting over 102,000 jobs, according to the study, which also found that by 2032, when the proposed new terminal would be expected to open and Boeing’s expansion would be completed, that economic impact would grow to $32.4 billion and over 133,000 jobs.  

Competing for the Jobs of Tomorrow 

With the passengers it serves projected to grow from 15.9 million in 2019 to more than 21 million by 2040, the St. Louis airport’s existing facilities are aging and are not capable of meeting the future needs of airlines and air passengers. Terminal 1 is more than 70 years old, and its most recent expansions occurred between 40 and 50 years ago. It has no active capacity for international flights; concession space, concourses, restrooms, and parking are inadequate to meet today’s demands. Many of the existing gates at Terminal 1 were designed for smaller regional jets only and cannot accommodate modern, mainline aircraft.  

Terminal 2, which was completed in 1998, has limited room for its primary carrier, Southwest Airlines, to grow. Furthermore, Terminal 2 currently has insufficient parking, concessions, restrooms, and limited Federal Inspection Services space for international arrivals.  

Other metros with which St. Louis competes for jobs and investment – such as Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Nashville, and Pittsburgh – have made major investments in their airports. According to data recently compiled by Greater St. Louis, Inc., 80% of similarly sized metros have recently built or are currently building or planning major airport and terminal construction projects. More than half of these projects exceed $2 billion – the largest reaching $4.1 billion. 

The new, single-terminal St. Louis airport – currently in early stages of planning – would provide a best-in-class traveler experience with: 

  • More gates 

  • More food, beverage, and concession opportunities  

  • A much larger on-site garage that would triple the number of parking spaces 

  • An improved roadway system for better driver dropoff and pickup 

  • Room for additional domestic and international routes 

The new, single-terminal project would not be paid for with state or local taxpayer funds. 

“Momentum is building in St. Louis. We are once again attracting businesses and are growing key industry sectors. However, the metro areas with which we are competing have made game-changing investments in their airports and upgraded the passenger experience. Transforming our airport with a world-class terminal is one of the most important steps we can take to keep our momentum going and outpace the competition in the hunt for jobs and investment,” said John Tracy, Executive Chairman of Dot Family Holdings and an investor in Greater St. Louis, Inc. 

Airport Economic Impact Study 

The airport economic impact study, commissioned by Greater St. Louis, Inc. and conducted by Kimley-Horn and Associates, one of the nation’s leading firms on airport development, found: 

  • The airport generated an annual economic impact of $27.5 billion* and supported 102,815 jobs** in 2019 (the last full year prior to the pandemic). 

  • The annual economic impact grows to $32.4 billion in 2032, when the new, single terminal airport comes fully online and after Boeing’s expansion is complete, a yearly increase of nearly $5 billion.  

  • The new airport would support 133,501 jobs in 2032, an increase of over 30,000. 

“A thriving economy has a direct, positive impact on the health and prosperity of the entire community,” said Laura Kaiser, President and CEO of SSM Health and Greater St. Louis, Inc. board member. “This study highlights the significant role the airport plays in driving growth and opportunity for the St. Louis metropolitan area. To ensure a vibrant future for our region, we must undertake this airport transformation.” 

This increased economic output is driven by impacts on the airport itself, including administration, airport tenants (including airlines), capital expenditures, and visitor spending; aerospace manufacturing growth led by Boeing; and growth in aviation-reliant businesses. The single-largest driver of growth, the airport’s economic output alone would skyrocket from $6.1 billion to $9.3 billion per year – an increase of 53%. 

Links to background materials: 

* Economic impacts include direct impacts and multiplier impacts.  Direct impacts are the initial effects of expenditures and sales. Multiplier impacts include indirect and induced impacts – the effect of supplier sales and re-spending in the region. 

** Jobs data include people working at the airport, in aerospace manufacturing, and aviation-reliant businesses. 

Media Contact: Tony Wyche | 314-398-9991 |