Politics & Government

MidAmerica Airport director’s future unclear as county posts job listing for position

St. Clair County officials are being tight-lipped about a newly posted job listing airport director at the county-owned MidAmerica St. Louis Airport.

MidAmerica’s website reveals a large, front-page call for applications for its director position, but does not give a clue about the future of the current director, Tim Cantwell.

Cantwell, who has served as the airport’s director for 17 years, declined to comment on the job listing Tuesday, forwarding all questions to St. Clair County Board Chairmen Mark Kern.

Representatives with the Hauser Group, a public relations firm that represents MidAmerica Airport, also forwarded all questions to Kern.

Kern did not respond to requests for comment about job listing.

According to the job listing, resumes for the director position will be accepted until Dec. 2. Afterward, a search committee will review candidates and hold phone interviews. A selection is expected to be made by Feb. 1, and the new director would start March 2, according to the website.

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MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Director Tim Cantwell. News-Democrat

It’s unclear what Cantwell’s future is with the airport. Cantwell earned $151,926 in 2018 as the airport’s director.

The Public Building Commission, which oversees the airport, is scheduled to meet Thursday. However, an agenda has yet to be released for the meeting.

Earlier this year, MidAmerica officials said 2019 was looking to be a “landmark” year at the airport, with a 20% increase in passenger traffic expected in 2019. The airport set a record for its highest number of monthly passengers in July with 46,000.

Allegiant Air is the lone commercial passenger airline company at MidAmerica, offering flights to several locations in Florida, South Carolina and Arizona. It also offers flights from MidAmerica to Las Vegas during the peak travel season.

Passenger growth has been at more than 475 percent over the past five years, partially due to flight options from Allegiant flights, the county said in a news release.

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Allegiant Airlines is the only passenger carrier at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. BND file photo

In 2018, airport leaders approved a $2.1 million design contract for renovations at MidAmerica and, more recently, announced a $96 million project to extend the MetroLink light-rail system from the Shiloh-Scott Air Force Base station to MidAmerica as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s six-year Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan.

Those improvements were made possible due to the continued increase in patronage at the airport over the past five years. Kern said recently that trend is expected to continue as word spreads about MidAmerica’s offerings.

The airport also attributed some of its growth to its partnership with Scott Air Force Base, which gives the base use of its civilian runway for some military flying missions.

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MidAmerica Airport Director Tim Cantwell declined to comment on a job listing for his position on the airports website Tuesday. Joseph Bustos News-Democrat

“While we’re excited about the growth on the passenger side of our operations, we’re also proud that our unique status as a Joint Use Airport partnering with Scott Air Force Base, which is enabling us to serve their needs in an important way in 2019, and that’s contributing to significant additional takeoffs and landings on our runway,” Cantwell said this summer.

Over the past several years, the airport also has focused on bringing in more cargo traffic, something Cantwell in the past has said would bolster MidAmerica’s financial position. The airport built a large warehouse to accommodate its cargo partners and has worked to open trade route between MidAmerica and China.

The county also has partnered with Boeing Corp., which built a small assembly plant at MidAmerica.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

Why we did this story

This story on MidAmerica St. Louis Airport is a part of the Belleville News-Democrat’s continued reporting on the airport and its impact on the metro-east. It is one of many articles that focus on developments at the airport, its offerings and more.

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Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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