Q&A: How A Single-Terminal KCI Would Affect Carriers, Cargo, Prices

Kansas City International Airport | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Kansas City International Airport | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City International Airport’s plan to upgrade to a single-terminal facility has yet to take off, but supporters hope that with the city’s approval, the renovations will lead to business growth in the region.

The airport asserts that its existing three-terminal structure is not economically viable and cannot adequately accommodate future expansion and modernization. In addition to developing a new 37-gate terminal, the $1.2 billion proposal would eliminate Terminals A and B, repurpose Terminal C, create a 7,500-space parking garage and allocate funds for airfield improvements and road development.

If approved by the city, the project would likely be financed through a combination of federal grants, passenger facility charges and revenue bonds. Under Missouri state law, Kansas City cannot approve the aviation bonds without a vote from city residents.

The board of directors of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously in November to support the one-terminal proposal.

The City Council voted 9-3 in April to continue studying the single-terminal plan, and a citizens advisory group is expected to make recommendations late this year. In addition to the single terminal plan, the task force is examining a less drastic renovation of terminals B and C in the next few years.

Missouri Business Alert asked officials with the city’s Aviation Department about the plan and how it would affect people who use the airport’s services.

Is a remodeled airport likely to persuade more passengers to book KCI flights?

The project would “not necessarily” bring more traffic to the airport, as the economy would play a central role in determining whether travelers use KCI’s services,  Joe McBride, the Aviation Department’s marketing manager said.“It would be more efficient for passenger movement and airlines,” he added. KCI experienced a 7.8 percent decrease in the number of passengers from March 2012 to March 2013.

What percentage of KCI passengers are travelling for business reasons?

There is close to a 50-50 split among passengers traveling for business and leisure purposes, with a “slight skew toward business,” McBride said.

Will the airport be able to accommodate the same number of cargo carriers?

KCI’s cargo carriers would be unaffected by the single-terminal plan because they operate out of a different area of the airport. KCI hosts four cargo carriers and eight carg0/passenger combination carriers.

Will the project lead to price increases in tickets and parking fees? 

The Aviation Department does not have enough information to estimate parking prices and any potential changes in ticket prices if the single-terminal plan is implemented.

Would shuttle services to hotels and rental car services be affected during construction?

Terminal A is scheduled to close at the end of 2013, due to airline consolidation and planned changes at KCI. Because the proposed terminal would be built at the current location for Terminal A, shuttle and rental car services would not be impacted during construction.

What have airlines operating at KCI said about the proposed construction project, and are they amenable to partially financing the project?

The airlines are in the process of hiring a consultant to advise them about the proposed single terminal and will be at the table when and if the new terminal project moves forward.

How would the aviation bonds be secured?

Aviation bonds used to fund the project would be secured by the net revenues of the airport system.

What would KCI need to spend if the project doesn’t go through?

Renovations and upgrades that will need to be made in the next several years would cost approximately $600 million. Some of those projects include $160 million in deicing and airfield improvements, structural, roadways and utility projects and parking garage expansion.

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