New KCI Terminal Will Have More Gates; Timeline Pushed Back Slightly
The timeline for a new single terminal at Kansas City International airport has been slightly delayed because airport officials have determined it needs more gates than originally planned.
Southwest Airlines' Steve Sisneros, who serves as spokesperson for KCI's airline tenants, said the airlines will account for any additional cost — not taxpayers or the city.
“[The added gates] are good news. It means new carriers have come in to serve Kansas City. It’s additional commitment by the airline community to KCI,” Sisteros told Kansas City Council members Thursday afternoon.
Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved construction of a new terminal in November 2017.
The plan at the time was to build a terminal that had 35 gates, which could potentially be expanded to 42. The airlines who use KCI are now asking the the new terminal open with 39 gates.
The airport currently operates 31 leased gates, and those gates aren't designed for larger, modern aircraft.
The original plan for the new terminal was based on assumptions about passenger traffic in 2014. Back then, passenger traffic growth was estimated to increase at 1.9 percent a year. Growth has increased at nearly double that rate — 3.9 percent annually — since 2013, and the airport has added four airlines in the past year.
The aviation department expects the changes to delay the final financing agreement by 60 days. Construction can’t begin until that agreement is signed.
While most city council members were unfazed by the delay, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner said it's a major change in tone from a few months ago.
"Sixty days ago we were all talking about time, 'Gotta get it done, first opportunity if we delay, then we're doing something bad,' I'm a little bit surprised at how cavalierly now we're saying, 'Sixty days is okay, we've got to take our time," Wagner said.
The 39-gate plan allows for an additional three gates to be added if demand grows over the next decade.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3 Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.