Kansas City International Airport (KCI) | KCUR

Kansas City International Airport (KCI)

A completely new terminal at Kansas City International Airport may be out of the question (for now), but other changes are in the works. Patrick Klein, director of the Kansas City Aviation Department, speaks about the challenges and misconceptions of ongoing projects, and what travelers can look forward to in the coming years.

KC Aviation Department

For two years, KCI Airport officials have leaned heavily on promoting the idea of a new single-terminal concept when reporting aviation details to City Council committees.

Not this time.

New Aviation Director Patrick Klein reported to the Airport Committee on Wednesday and focused entirely on ideas for improving the existing terminals.

In May, Mayor Sly James said the city was putting discussions on a new single-terminal for KCI on hold after research suggested an overwhelming lack of public support.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said Tuesday that low public support has prompted the city to abandon plans to build a new airport.

James said the city would shift its priorities to other issues after polls last week showed just 39 percent of voters supporting a ballot question on issuing airport revenue bonds to construct a new terminal.

“Although I still feel that a new air terminal is inevitable, it's clear that the time is not now,” James said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

The airlines that use Kansas City International Airport want to take their plan for a single terminal to voters in August.

Steve Sisneros with Southwest Airlines says waiting any longer could drive up costs on the proposed $964 million project.

“The airlines have agreed to new terminal concept,” Sisneros told the Airport Committee Tuesday. “The airlines have agreed to take financial risk for the project. The airlines have agreed to back the debt.”

Jasssmit - CillanXC - kkeithphoto / Creative Commons

When it comes to metros that Kansas City considers its competition for business, population growth, conventions and prestige: Forget about St. Louis. We left that rivalry behind in the last century.

People whose job it is to keep KC competitive point to Nashville, Denver, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Louisville as among our chief 21st century opponents.

KC Aviation Department

Airport consultants focused on two possible layouts for a new terminal Tuesday as they explained to the Kansas City Council Airport Committee why those designs would meet airline needs. 

One was configured in an “H” shape, while the other could be described as shaped like a shallow letter “V.”

Neither represented a formal final design, but Ken Brown of the terminal design firm PGAL used them to explain how their footprints would be compatible with airplane traffic and security and baggage systems.

Landrum & Brown / Kansas City Aviation Department

An increase of $3 a day at some airport parking facilities and a modest but unspecified ticket price increase would be the only effect of a new billion-dollar terminal on travel costs. That was the essence of a report aviation officials presented to the Kansas City Council Airport Committee on Tuesday.

Aviation officials presented a financing scenario involving revenue bonds, federal grants and airline participation. 

Their numbers were based on 3 percent inflation, 6 percent interest rates on the bonds and a passenger traffic gradual increase of 40 percent by 2045.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

A small group of Kansas Citians gathered outside the Kansas City Gun Show at the KCI Expo Center Saturday to call for stricter gun control.

Organizer Alice Kitchen says she'd like to see stricter background checks for guns as well as a more concerted effort from gun producers to keep firearms from falling into the hands of criminals.

Rendering courtesy of Crawford Architects

Airline consultants have rejected a proposal to renovate existing KCI terminals rather than build a new one.

Consultant Lou Salomon of AvAirPros told the Kansas City Council Airport Committee Tuesday that the renovation plan lacks the flexibility needed for a forecast 40 percent passenger traffic growth by 2040 and underestimates the costs.

“The major renovations are just less efficient,” Salomon said. “And they cost more – and not just from the initial capital costs perspective.  They cost more to operate and maintain and to finance.”

Crawford Architects, LLC.

Kansas City officials have debated the future of Kansas City International Airport for years, but there's another proposal on the table that could change the conversation.

KC Aviation Department

An Aviation Department Study presented to the full Kansas City Council on Thursday concludes that Kansas City International Airport's three terminals could be replaced for $964 million, approximately $40 million less than the lowest estimate for renovating two of the existing terminals.

The study was finalized and presented at the request of Council Airport Committee chair Jolie Justus, who was emphatic that it must include dollar-figure estimates for both renovation and replacement.

Jennifer Cotto / KCUR 89.3

If you've ever been to the Kansas City International Airport, chances are you've seen Rick Evans.

His large wooden chair sits in Terminal B — between the Boulevard Brew Pub and the Delta ticket counter. 

Evans spends most of his day sitting on a small stool next to his chair waiting for customers.

On a good day, he may see as many as 10. 

"I meet people from all walks of life," he says. "Everybody has a story. It's so neat to hear how people get their jobs, and the ordeal of going through things."

KC Aviation Department?Steve Bell

The Kansas City Council's new Airport Committee is making it clear that the airlines will not dictate the future of KCI. 

The committee held its first meeting on Tuesday, and the main course was a report from Aviation Director Mark VanLoh on the history and status of the airport.

Councilwoman Teresa Loar was perhaps the most assertive with VanLoh when he suggested that since the airlines will pay for whatever is done, they should have the most say in whether the airport terminal is renovated or replaced.

Frank Morris / KCUR

More than four out of five Kansas City area residents have to cross the Missouri river to get to Kansas City International Airport.  For many it’s a lengthy drive, one that begs the question “why is our airport so far?”  

There’s a new warehouse going up at the Intermodal BusinessCentre near the Kansas City International Airport.

The KC Aviation Department, Trammell Crow Company and Clarion Partners will break ground on the facility Tuesday.

It’s the third such building in the industrial park.

There’s no tenant yet, but David Hinchman with CBRE real estate says it’s an ideal location for companies that want a Midwest distribution center.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For the mayor of Kansas City, life is not boring.

Fresh off a triumphant re-election campaign, Sly James is set to face a city council with nine new faces— something he says will be a challenge.

“It is difficult to integrate nine people onto a 12 person council,” James told Up To Date host Steve Kraske on Wednesday.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A Southwest Airlines-led panel looking at the future of Kansas City International Airport says it would be cheaper to rebuild than to renovate the three horseshoe-shaped terminals.

“The major renovation options were coming in significantly over a billion dollars,” Steve Sisneros, director of airport affairs for the airline, said Tuesday after a presentation to the Kansas City Council. “The new terminal options are coming in under.”

HDR, City of Kansas City

In less than a week, Kansas City, Missouri voters will go to the polls to decide on the makeup of their next City Council.

One of the most closely-competitive races is for the the Northland's 2nd District At-large seat now held by Ed Ford, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits.

Running for the 2nd District seat is Teresa Loar, former two-term City Council member and two-term member of the North Kansas City School Board, who says she has lived in the northland for almost 50 years.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council elections are fast approaching, and several of the races look to be closely contested.

One of those is in the 4th district, where former Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields is giving incumbent Jim Glover a spirited run.

Both Shields and Glover joined Up To Date host Steve Kraske at the KCUR studios to discuss some of the city's most pressing issues.

People working to develop a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport say the project is going so well that it could become a national model. 

Landrum & Brown / Kansas City Aviation Department

You may not be shocked to hear that Kansas City International Airport is in the running for "worst airport in America."

A poll being conducted by design and technology blog Gizmodo lists eight airports in contention for the title. The list of candidates was gleaned from nominations they solicited from more than 600 disgruntled travelers.

Currently, New York's LaGuardia Airport leads the poll with more than 24 percent of the 5,775 total votes. KCI has 6.4 percent.

Landrum & Brown / Kansas City Aviation Department

The recommendation to replace the three terminals at the Kansas City International Airport with one new building is still controversial among the general public.

But according to its final report, the mayor's airport advisory commission didn't find it was controversial at all.

Commission co-chairman Dave Fowler said Thursday that the panel began its study of the airport as a group divided in opinion, but finished in nearly complete agreement.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

Moving one step closer to a final resolution on Kansas City International Airport's future, Mayor Sly James' task force recommended a new single terminal Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with the co-chairs of that advisory panel about why it recommended this option, which has encountered fierce opposition in the Kansas City metro area.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The KCI Terminal Advisory Group recommended Wednesday that the city transform Kansas City International Airport into a single-terminal structure.

The recommendation comes from the 24-member task force Kansas City Mayor Sly James appointed last spring to study the issue. The group has been meeting bi-weekly for nearly a year to consider the airport's future.

Alex Smith / KCUR

A slew of remaining questions prevented the KCI Terminal Advisory Group from making its official recommendation Tuesday morning.

The group, which was created by Mayor Sly James, is expected to make a recommendation to the City Council on one of three plans for the future of the Kansas City International Airport.

Kansas City Aviation Department

A citizen taskforce soon could make a recommendation for the future of Kansas City International Airport. 

After nearly a year of work, the group has narrowed the many possible options down to three — renovating the existing terminals and building new screening areas and parking facilities, revamping two terminals and connecting them with a central building, or constructing a new terminal. 

Architect Bob Berkebile helped draw up plans for KCI more than four decades ago. He now co-chairs the advisory group.

Interview highlights

Critics Express Concern Over Potential KCI Changes

Feb 25, 2014
Julie Denesha / KCUR

Mayoral investigators searching for best ways to improve Kansas City International Airport heard another barrage of public input Monday night.

Most of it was against radical change from multiple terminals. The most common sentiments were to update the existing structure.

Alan Norman said he finds the airport user-friendly but not perfect.

"There are some operating inefficiencies there and maintenance problems and security problems that are expensive," said Norman.

 

Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration told Kansas City's Airport Terminal Advisory Committee Monday that their agency wouldn't pay very much of the cost of building a new terminal. But a consultants report suggested a new terminal building might help pay for itself.

Sandwiches, coffee and soft drinks could help pay for a new terminal according to Garfield Eaton of transportation consultants Frasca & Associates. He says KCI finished in last place for concession revenues among 20 airports studied - about 66 cents for each departing passenger.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Kansas City can finally hang a “no vacancy” sign on one of its largest and most important industrial buildings.  

In its heyday some 6000 people worked in the TWA overhaul base at KCI. The place is massive, a million square feet, more room than all three terminals combined. When American Airlines pulled out a few years ago, the place was empty. Now, after an intensive marketing campaign Mark VanLoh, Kansas City’s Aviation director says, it’s just the reverse.

Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would begin nonstop service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., beginning Feb. 1.

Southwest received authority to serve the route after filing a petition with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The request was backed by the Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

In a release from the Kansas City Aviation Department, James said the announcement solidifies Kansas City's reputation as a top-tier, centrally located travel destination.

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