More and more, the idea of building a new, single terminal at KCI seems to be wafting into the clouds. Up, up and away…
After the mayor’s special task force on KCI last year endorsed construction of a single terminal, eliminating the antiquated three-terminal model we have had for more than 40 years, absolutely nothing has happened.
It was clear that public sentiment runs strongly against significant changes at KCI, and, as a result, political advocates of a single terminal — such as Mayor Sly James — found it in their best interests to pipe down.
And on Wednesday the c.e.o. of Southwest Airlines, the biggest user of KCI, probably snuffed out any remaining hopes of Kansas City getting a modern, attractive airport for the next 15 to 20 years.
Gary Kelly, who was in town on unrelated aviation business, suggested that a major redesign of KCI would cause airline fares to increase significantly. Low costs for the airlines, Kelly said, mean low prices for customers.
He didn’t mention, of course, that Southwest has been raising fees so fast that it’s now almost undeserving of the title “low-cost airline.” Two or three years ago, a research firm named Topaz International conducted a survey of 100 routes flown by Southwest. Here’s what it discovered:
When comparing airfare only, competing airlines were lower than Southwest Airlines over 60% of the time, and higher than Southwest Airlines 35% of the time. This result is surprising given the perception in the marketplace, and with many travel managers, that Southwest Airlines is in fact the low-cost carrier in all markets they serve.
Although cost considerations are paramount for Kelly at KCI, it was a different story a few years ago at Dallas’ Love Field, where Kelly was completely behind a $500-million-plus renovation. But that was Dallas, where Kelly resides and Southwest has its headquarters.
…My interpretation, then, of Gary Kelly’s comments is: We want to keep costs down so we can continue raising prices and increasing our profit margin. So, don’t bother us with talk of a modern airport with amenities that most other big cities have.
I think it would be a great thing if Academie Lafayette and the Kansas City School District would team up and develop a progressive “early college” school on the Southwest High School campus.
The prospect of such a collaboration fell apart a few months ago, but it has been revived — to some extent — this week, with the Stowers Foundation pledging to pay for $2 million in start-up costs.
In the long run, though, money probably won’t overcome the opposition of several community organizations, some of which are worried about “resegregation.”
Two groups that oppose the partnership are the Urban Summit, an organization spearheaded by the Baptist Ministers Union, and the Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, also known as More Squared.
I find considerable irony in those two groups’ opposition to an invigorated Southwest High.
MORE Squared’s website says the organization was created in 2004 “as an interfaith social justice organization reflecting different cultural backgrounds, faith traditions, skin colors and economic means. We are united in our commitment to transforming our communities by creating a metropolitan area that embraces all people and offers everyone the opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.”
It seems to me that a racially balanced, college prep school in the Brookside area would do a lot to offer more students the opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.
The Urban Summit’s mission sounds similar. It is “to develop initiatives to foster community relations, enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the urban core.”
While a high-achieving Southwest High would not directly enhance the inner-city economy and quality of life, it could certainly go a long way toward fostering closer ties with the white community.
In addition, it would give a lot of African-American students the opportunity to shed the albatross that the KSPS system hangs around their necks. And surely some of those students would be inspired, after graduating from college, to do whatever they could to give other inner-city students a helping hand up.