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Solar Impulse Aircraft Flying Again; Arrival at Lambert Nearing

Solar Impulse, the first aircraft capable of flying day and night powered exclusively by solar energy, will be one stop closer to St. Louis after it finishes its second U.S. leg from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Dallas- Fort Worth International Airport. The arrival at DFW is scheduled sometime after midnight, May 23. It left Phoenix before sunrise this morning, May 22.

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will be the next destination for the “Solar Impulse Across America” flight, which will also make stops at Washington DC-Dulles and New York’s JFK airports.

The public is being offered a chance to view the plane at each of the five U.S. airports on its Across America flight plan.  Solar Impulse is a prototype carbon fiber airplane with a wingspan of a jumbo jet (208ft) and the weight of a small car (3,500 lbs.). The aircraft is powered by 12,000 solar cells built into its wings which provide power to four 10hp electric motors. Solar cells recharge the aircraft’s lithium batteries during the day flight which allows the plane to continue flying at night.

Fans and supporters of the world’s most advanced solar-powered airplane can sign up at www.solarimpulse.com (Join Us link) for the latest news and events including specific viewing opportunities in St. Louis when it arrives. The arrival date in St. Louis has not been set yet. The aircraft could arrive at Lambert within the next week or two based on the weather and other flight operations.  

Bond Ratings and Passenger Traffic on Upswing at Lambert

Two rating agencies have announced ratings increases on Lambert-St. Louis International Airport debt. Moody’s raised its rating to A3-stable outlook from Baa1 with a stable outlook. Standard & Poor’s raised its rating to A- with a stable outlook from A- with a negative outlook. This is the first time in more than a decade that both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s ratings for the Airport have both been in the single “A” category.

Earlier this month, Fitch Ratings upgraded outstanding airport revenue bonds to 'BBB+' from 'BBB' with a stable outlook.

These rating improvements will help Lambert maximize its refunding savings when it enters the market next month with a $32 million bond refunding expected to net more than $3 million in savings for Lambert’s signatory air carriers.

The rating agencies attributed the upgrades to strong fiscal management and positive passenger traffic. Just released, passenger enplanements at Lambert Airport jumped 2.5 percent in April versus a year ago. Approximately 522,900 passengers boarded planes versus 509,000 in April 2012. For the first four months of 2013, Lambert is up nearly one percent with total enplanements of 1.95 million versus 1.93 million in the same January through April time frame in 2012.

Total passengers, both arriving and departing, was up 2.1 percent in April versus a year ago. Approximately 1.05 million passengers have traveled through Lambert so far this year versus 1.03 million in 2012 for a year to date increase of one percent.

Daylight- Lambert Photo of the Week

Crews were cleaning up Friday after removing boards that previously covered the tornado damaged area above the C Concourse Checkpoint.

After two years, one of the final tornado restoration projects is seeing the proverbial daylight at the end of the tunnel. This week, crews were installing the final glass panes in the section of window frames that sit above the C Concourse Checkpoint in Terminal 1. On Friday, construction workers removed plywood boards to let the sun shine through once again. There’s still minor work left to go in the area. Meanwhile, another tornado restortation project is also nearing the finish. American Airlines is expecting to re-open its Admirals Club next month after extensive renovations following the April 22, 2011 tornado.

Mascot Mayhem: Lambert Photo of the Week

Fredbird, Rampage and Louie showed their St. Louis spirit at Lambert this week.

St. Louis’ famous pro mascots dropped by Lambert this week for fun and mayhem as part of the Airport’s Customer Appreciation Week. This was a prideful posed picture of the famed bird, ram and bear. The three had their way roaming Terminal 1 suprising passengers and guests in countless ways. They even tried to check-in a few passengers. There were beak kisses and bear hugs. A few babies were held; some cried. Children cheered. So did adults. Most of all, lots of pictures were taken with our favorite furry and feathered friends. It was also a great way to say, "Hello to St. Louis."

Fitch Ratings Upgrades City of St. Louis Airport Revenue Bonds

Fitch Ratings has upgraded St. Louis, Missouri's $740.2 million outstanding airport revenue bonds to 'BBB+' from 'BBB'.  The global rating agency says the outlook for the City of St. Louis bonds remains stable.

The Fitch Ratings announcement noted continued stable traffic trends at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport following years of volatility due to the loss of the American Airlines hub and the economic recession. Furthermore, Fitch's baseline expectation is for leverage and airline costs to remain stable going forward and prudent fiscal management of the operating and capital expenditures is also a factor that helped strengthen the airport’s financial profile.

The bonds are secured by the net revenues generated from airport operations.

“The airport’s conservative debt profile, strong fiscal management and continued stability in airline traffic are all contributing factors to the positive news of the credit rating upgrade for the airport bonds,” said St. Louis City Comptroller Darlene Green.

“While continuing to operate a safe and efficient airport, we have been aggressive in reducing costs, growing revenue and growing community support for Lambert,” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “It’s all helping to gain the attention of rating agencies.”

Lambert has seen two straight years of passenger growth. This summer, Lambert airlines are operating on average 255 daily departures to 63 non-stop locations. Lambert’s newest non-stop to Grand Rapids, MI will begin in August on Southwest Airlines.  

Robot Training: Lambert Photo of the Week

Saint Louis County Bomb and Arson Team conducted a joint exercise with St. Louis Airport Police this week.

Robots and bomb disposal equipment were on display this week as the Airport Police Department conducted a joint exercise with Saint Louis County Police and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Friday’s training exercise was held at Terminal 2. Multi-agency training exercises allow officers to become familiar with Airport facilities and equipment in advance of an actual call for a joint response. The Airport’s bomb detection dogs were also part of the exercise. 

St. Louis Chosen for Midwest Stop During Historic Solar Impulse Flight

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is the final airport chosen for a stopover during the upcoming cross country flight of the Solar Impulse, the first aircraft capable of flying 24 hours day and night powered exclusively by solar energy. The Solar Impulse Across America flight could begin within days departing from San Francisco’s Moffett Field. Lambert will be the Midwest US stop with a tentative arrival around the end of May. The flight plan also includes stops at Phoenix Sky Harbor, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington DC-Dulles and New York’s JFK, where it will conclude its historic journey without using a single drop of fuel.

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, Swiss pilots and founders of Solar Impulse, are taking turns in flying the revolutionary aircraft across the U.S. in preparation for an even bigger goal of a zero-fuel flight around the world in 2015.

"For Solar Impulse the choice of St. Louis is an obvious one: it is a homage to all the pioneers, starting from Charles Lindbergh, who have contributed to the development of aviation," said Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg in a joint statement.  

“The history of flight is traced through our city with the support of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis nearly 90 years ago,” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “We are extremely proud to host a new aerial wonder as it demonstrates the next generation of aviation technologies.”

Solar Impulse is a prototype carbon fiber airplane with a wingspan of a jumbo jet (208ft) and the weight of a small car (3,500 lbs.). The aircraft is powered by 12,000 solar cells built into its wings which provide power to four 10hp electric motors. Solar cells recharge the aircraft’s lithium batteries during the day flight which allows the plane to continue flying at night.

“A flying laboratory for clean technologies, this prototype is the result of seven years of intense work in the fields of materials science, energy management and man-machine interface. Many of these technologies can also be applied to sectors beyond aviation,” said Piccard and Borschberg.

Lambert is now working with the Solar Impulse team on the logistics of the plane’s arrival. One of the key considerations for the stop-over was a secure shelter for the aircraft during the St. Louis layover. The aircraft will be parked inside an existing Lambert hangar now being considered for development for future cargo and logistics operations.                          

The 246,000 sq. ft. facility, formerly owned by Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, has a 40ft high bay entry and space to clear the wingspan of the Solar Impulse.  Special events and a public viewing are now in the planning stages for the Solar Impulse stop in St. Louis. The flights will also be live streamed on the Solar Impulse’s website http://www.solarimpulse.com/en/tag/across-america.

Lambert Plans Week-Long Customer Appreciation Celebration

Lambert- St. Louis International Airport is excited to hold a week- long celebration just for passengers.  May 5-11, 2013 has been deemed National Tourism/Customer Appreciation Week.   Passengers coming in and out of Lambert- St. Louis International Airport May 5-11 can look forward to some surprises.   It is part of the airport’s focus on providing excellent customer service and the customer service program, Catch Us Giving.  Lambert’s partners, contractors and Airline personnel are using customer appreciation week as their special way of thanking passengers for their business.  Staff members are excited to kick off the week showcasing their musical talents Monday, May 6.  Several staff members will sing or play on the entertainment stage in Terminal 1.  There will also be performances by employees in Terminal 2.   Tuesday is Mascot Day.  Mascots Louie from the St. Louis Blues, Fredbird with the St. Louis Cardinals and Rampage with the St. Louis Rams camps will stop by Lambert Airport to meet and greet visitors.  The weeklong event will have participation from a popular St. Louis attraction, Six Flags too.  WB characters Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny will be on hand to take pictures as well as US Bank’s Captain Shield.   Retailers such as InMotion Entertainment will offer passengers discounts and free giveaways while they last.  Explore St. Louis will wrap up customer appreciation week by giving passengers a taste of St. Louis.  They will hand out one of the city’s signature food items, pre-packaged gooey Louie cakes.   Here’s the line-up for National Tourism/Customer Appreciation Week, May 5-11, 2013.

Monday-Lambert Airport Talent Showcase

10:30-11:45 am- Guitarist/Singer Lupe

Tuesday- Mascot Day

Six Flags/WB Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck- 12-2pm (Terminal 2)

St. Louis Blues-Louie-12pm (Terminal 1)

St. Louis Cardinals-Fredbird- 3pm (Terminal 1)

St. Louis Rams-Rampage-3pm (Terminal 1)

Wednesday- Airlines Day

Thursday- Lambert Talent Showcase

10:30-11:45am-Pianist Bryan Johnson (United Airlines)-Terminal 1

12:30-1:15pm-Singer Ric Louis (TSA)-Terminal 1

1:30-2:00pm-Dana Washington (United Airlines)-Terminal 1

1:30-2:30pm- Saxophonist Readus Miller- (Shoe Shine)-Terminal 2

Friday-Local Bands and Explore St. Louis Day

Explore St. Louis- Louie Gooey Cakes

*Take pictures with  famous St. Louis Icon Chuck Berry*

The Chuck Berry cutout will be available for passengers to take pictures with him!

 

High Praise: Lambert Photo of the Week

New digital signs at Lambert feature employees who have been honored in the Catch Us Giving great customer service program.

If Airport employees get caught giving great customer service, they have a chance to receive some high praise. Literally. New advertising and messaging screens have been installed in numerous locations at Lambert, including the high ceiling just inside security at Terminal 2. These digital boards now feature employees honored in our Catch Us Giving program, which promotes great customer service. Passengers and visitors can nominate any employee who they encounter during their trip through Lambert. A Catch Us Giving committee representing Lambert, airlines, tenants and other service providers highlights two employees each month to be recognized based on their nominations. Nominations cards are in various locations at the Airport. You can also nominate online.

Framed!: Lambert Photo of the Week

B.J. Vogt takes a level reading during the installation of framed art pieces outside the Airport administrative offices in Terminal 1.

The Airport’s latest art endeavor brings a sense of calm to a busy area in Terminal 1. Lambert has framed and hung the original art works that were created to produce the Airport’s three-panel glass screens in Concourses A and C (installed 2011/2012). Only ticketed passengers can see those works. Now everyone who passes through the terminal on the lower level can get a sense of inspiration. Magestic eagles, Missouri rivers, exquisite quilt patterns, as well as serene and abstract imagery are all part of the collection featuring local artists: Lauren Adams, Sarah Giannobile, Joan Hall, Jana Harper, Tom Huck, William LaChance, Eva Lundsager, Edna Patterson-Petty and Mel Watkin.

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