New KCI terminal: Fliers need a compelling case for it
The Kansas City Star
Supporters of the new — and needed — terminal at Kansas City International Airport recently botched a major pitch.
That’s too bad because city officials need as much public good will as they can muster while preparing to abandon the current KCI terminals so popular with many local residents.
Last week Aviation Director Mark VanLoh told the City Council that a large, modern terminal could be built at the site of the current Terminal A.
Yet just months ago VanLoh and others were waxing on about the benefits of placing the facility on vacant land south of KCI, several miles closer to passengers in most of the metro area.
City officials can’t afford to appear confused on such a big project, with a potential cost between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, mostly paid with airline and passenger fees. The construction timetable is five to seven years. Add in the fact that the current, convenient KCI configuration is beloved by many local residents, and airport officials need to have solid information at their fingertips when they are talking about this project.
So what changed?
Upon further inspection, officials said adding new roads and lanes to get to the southern site would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s good to know now, of course, although that fact should have been obvious even early on.
Saving $500 million and possibly getting the terminal completed two years faster — as VanLoh estimates could be done at the Terminal A location — could make a whole lot of sense.
The facility would have many more passenger-friendly amenities than can be found at the 40-year-old KCI terminals, such as more restaurants, shops, convenient restrooms and even electrical plugs. Plus, a modern terminal could attract more airlines with connections to domestic and international cities. And it would provide more efficient security.
A final recommendation to the City Council is expected later this year. That decision won’t be embraced by all Kansas Citians comfortable with the current KCI layout and its blessedly short walks to gates. City officials must be able to clearly show they have put together the best possible proposal to serve this community for decades to come.