Dumping the three-terminal, KCI layout got a big boost today from Kansas City Star business editor Keith Chrostowski.
In a Star Business Weekly commentary, Chrostowski laid out, logically and unemotionally, why we need to build a modern airport terminal.
He acknowledged the “40-year love affair” that Kansas City has enjoyed with KCI and noted in the headline that “breaking up is hard to do.”
That was an excellent way to get the readers’ attention, affirming the warm feelings that many people have for KCI, before weighing in with a set of facts that makes it clear that KCI needs a complete overhaul and new design.
Here are some of the points Chrostowski made:
— As it is, KCI has lost any hope of becoming a hub and essentially is a “fly-over” airport.
— KCI has “16 security stations manned by hundreds of Transportation Security Administration staffers compared with one checkpoint and relatively few TSA staff at most big airports.”
— Once through security, passengers are “trapped” in the barren gate areas.
— Connecting passengers often have to go through security at KCI, even though they already cleared security at their origination point.
— The interior design is antiquated, and the curve of the terminals tends to give travelers the impression that they are in a small airport.
— The loss of flights over the years, coupled with KCI’s “underwhelming impression” has dragged the city’s economy down.
Just as I did yesterday in yesterday’s post, Chrostowski reinforced the point that the money to retire construction bonds would not come from the city’s General Fund but from “a designated revenue stream of fees on airlines and fliers.” Yes, $1.2 billion is a lot of money, but investing it in a new, modern terminal would be far from wasting money, as many people have suggested. It would put us back on the aviation map and would provide the local economy with a tremendous boost.
Finally, Chrostowski noted that most of the money spent on a new airport “would go into the pockets of local contractors and thousands of area construction workers.” Can’t beat that, can you? As the political consultants will tell us when it comes time to approve a bond issue in order to proceed, it would be a major investment in Kansas City’s future.
Bravo, Chrostowski! You did a great job of methodically ticking off the reasons why we need to “toss over” this decades-old romance with KCI.
And now, let me say it with a little less restraint:
Let’s dump this damn airport as soon as reasonably possible and get on with building an airport that our children can be proud of and that will serve Kansas City’s needs for decades to come!