ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Will Lambert Airport go private? A release from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says that the city has submitted a preliminary application to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Privatization Pilot Program.

The FAA says that the program is designed to allow, “Select U.S. airports to generate access to sources of private capital for airport improvement and development. The results aim to improve operational efficiencies, allow for private sector innovation, and free up airport revenue for other municipal purposes, while retaining full ownership of the airport.”

Mayor Slay says in the release that if the FAA accepts the pre-application then the city can explore whether this is the right option for St. Louis.

“We owe it to taxpayers and the airport’s users to reap the maximum benefits of the airport, and we believe this pilot program has the potential to do just that by improving airport revenue through private partner innovation, diversification, and improved use of land assets,” the Mayor says in the release.

Commercial service airports like St. Louis Lambert, can only be leased, not sold. Under the APPP, the City would retain full ownership of the airport. Day-to-day operations would be turned over to a private sector operator that would lease the facility.

The FAA could approve St. Louis’ preliminary application sometime this spring. This is the first step in a lengthy, competitive selection process. If the city moves forward then the final transaction would require approval by the FAA, airlines operating out of St. Louis Lambert, as well as necessary local approvals.