The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

The $5 Million Dollar Airport To Nowhere

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This isn't the airport you're looking for.  Though, the emptiness feels the same.

Hat tip to Tom Steward at for this story.

St. Cloud Regional Airport (STC) touts lots of amenities on its website—a café, ATM, free wi-fi, free parking and a $5 million completely renovated terminal whose capacity went up dramatically from 30 to 200 travelers. There’s also a new $750,000 passenger boarding bridge secured with federal stimulus funds to keep travelers out of the elements while catching a flight.  One asset, however, the newly renovated airport notably lacks—commercial flights and passengers.

Currently, an average of about one charter flight a month with 130 or so passengers uses the eerily empty 9,000 square foot glass-fronted facility.  Potential passengers checking the airport’s website are notified there’s “no commercial air service” available. Delta Connection flights between St. Cloud and Minneapolis were grounded at the end of 2009 due to weak customer demand. Both national rental car agencies pulled out of their airport offices months ago.

By then, it was too late. $3.125 million in federal aviation grants from user fees on fuel and tickets, $1.131 million in state airport funds, and $767,000 in local sales taxes were already spent on what’s in danger of becoming a terminal project in more ways than one.

Please tell me why this was even built in the first place? 

Was this an idea of "if you build it they will come"?  I've been at airports with more traffic than this and they get by with one part-time rental car facility and passengers walk half a block to board the plane. 

But, at least they can still be positive about it.

We’re here to serve the public and serve them well and have adequate facilities,” Bill Towle, airport director, told the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. “I would say the airport is a utility and we need adequate facilities to serve the public.”

But, this wasn't the first grant that this facility received either.  And more to come!!!

In the last decade, St. Cloud Regional Airport has received more than $24 million in FAA airport improvement grants, including funding for the terminal project, according to OMB Watch, an online database that tracks government spending. 

Despite a shortage of commercial flights out of STC, there’s no shortage in requests for federal dollars.  Senator Al Franken’s website lists a $500,000 earmark request for improved runway lighting for the St. Cloud Regional Airport, while Senator Amy Klobuchar’s website lists a $1,000,000 earmark request for the same project.

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HELLO!?!?!?  Anyone there?!!?

Pretty soon, St. Cloud will be a nice beautiful ghost town of an airport.

Soon the six Transportation Security Administration (TSA) baggage screeners based in St. Cloud will also depart, along with their high-tech, high-cost equipment.  Assigned to other airports in the region for several months, the screeners have been offered jobs elsewhere.

There’s no commercial flights, so there’s no need for screening,” said Luis Casanova, TSA spokesman.  “We’re pulling our screeners out in November and at some point, the equipment will be moved, too.

And things can only look brighter from there.. err .. I mean darker.

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Empty airports make me fee blue.

There’s been no scheduled service since last year, a pledge drive to attract a new carrier hasn’t done as well as backers had hoped, federal safety equipment is set to be removed from the terminal and St. Cloud State University is considering a proposal to close its aviation department.

Oh, please tell me this isn't a joke!!  It couldn't be this screwed up could it?

The airport’s 2010 budget is $760,800 and the proposed 2011 budget is $736,900. The airport is supported through hanger rent, gas sales commission, state and federal grants and property taxes. The airport has five employees, one of whom works part-time.

Since Delta Air Lines stopped flying at the airport at the end of 2009, the city has been trying to attract a new carrier. The city has started a pledge drive to raise $2.2 million that would be used to buy round-trip tickets on future flights aboard a different airline serving the city.

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What'ya want to bet, this rope costs $10,000?!!?

I guess it could be that screwed up.  If you have no carrier, and no screeners, no rental facility, no traffic,... what is the purpose of the 5 employees?!?! 

Let me guess, ... they make $150,000 a year!



#1 Anonymous 05-Oct-2010

Your photos are not of St Cloud Regional Airport.

#2 captainfish 05-Oct-2010

Yes, I know.  Thus the reason I said at the top, "This is not the airport you are looking for"

But, I think it adds the "emptiness" feeling to the post.  Consider it a "File" photo.

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