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Airlines Want A Second Opinion On $1.6 Billion Price Tag For Kansas City Airport Terminal

Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate
The airlines who serve KCI will have a second consultant go over the cost of construction for a new single terminal.

Nearly a month ago, Kansas City, Missouri, officials were assured that the biggest airlines that serve Kansas City International Airport were on board with the higher price tag of $1.6 billion to build a new, single terminal.

Now, they’re not so sure.

On Tuesday, Mayor Sly James issued a statement saying the airlines had agreed to “take a second look” at the scope of the terminal, which has grown both in size and price since voters approved the project.

The move was prompted by smaller airlines, Spirit and Allegiant, who have reservations about the cost of a $20 million baggage claim system and about how that price tag will be divided among airlines.

On Thursday, aviation director Pat Klein revealed that the overall terminal cost was also an issue — not just to the smaller airlines, but the larger ones as well.  

Support from those carriers — Southwest, American and United — is essential to the future of the terminal. The mayor and city council promised voters that the new terminal would be paid for by the airlines.  

The group of eight airlines is having a second consultant go through the numbers to make sure they’re accurate and reasonable. A previous consultant has already checked the math and found that the price was fair.

“There’s roughly a billion dollars worth of construction that’s going to be done. They’re going to look at that number to see if, for this project and what’s the design, is that billion dollars the right number,” Klein said.

The price has not changed between the beginning of the month and now, so Klein said he was surprised to learn they wanted to take another look.

Councilwoman Teresa Loar says until the airlines agree to a term sheet, all airport discussions will have a cloud over them.

“Our aviation department assures us it’s coming, but it’s been coming for several months now, but so far it hasn’t materialized,” Loar said.

The aviation department and the airlines have several scheduled meetings to work out a resolution. Klein hopes to reach an agreement by the time the city council meets on January 10.

Klein says while he hopes to get all airlines on board, the project can move forward if five out of the eight airlines agree to a cost-sharing agreement.

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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