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Airline Consultants Reject Latest KCI Renovation Plan

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.”

Salomon agreed with Crawford Architects that two terminals would eventually have to be renovated, but said the renovations would actually cost $20 million more than the cheapest estimate of $964 million to build a new terminal. 

The inefficiency and lack of flexibility, the consultant said, relate to factors including simplicity of flow of passenger traffic and baggage and unpredictability of the size of new airplanes which are trending larger.

The councilwoman who requested the airport renovation proposal from Crawford Architects said she is very skeptical about a consultant's report rejecting the plan. 

“I'm still struggling a lot – a lot – with why renovated costs are higher than building a new terminal," Teresa Loar said.

Loar warned the consultants and the aviation department that the City Council and the voters will make the final decision on whether the terminals are renovated or replaced. 

She has said in the past she does not believe voters will approve bonds if they are for tearing down the existing terminals and building a new one.

Steve Bell is afternoon news anchor and business news reporter for KCUR.  He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or at steveb@kcur.org

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