Business leaders want a new KCI


Bill White, a senior vice president at Sprint, was among business people who testified in favor of a new downtown airport.

Business leaders today spoke in favor of a new Kansas City airport, calling KCI an outdated, inefficient and embarrassing gateway into the city.

Chamber of Commerce President Jim Heeter told the KCI Terminal Advisory Group that businesses tell arriving clients, “Please don’t equate KCI with Kansas City.”

The best that can be said of it is “familiarity, it’s like an old and comfortable shoe,” Heeter said.

But it lacks basic amenities like restaurants and restrooms, modern security, he said, and “getting to economy parking can be an outright ordeal.”

Modern airports elsewhere reflect the character of their cities, he said. “When you arrive at KCI you don’t have a sense of place – there’s nothing about it that is special.”

Business travelers make up from a half to two thirds of the passengers at KCI, and the advisory group wanted to hear from business.

Bill White, a senior vice president at Sprint, said the company generates about $15 million in tickets a year through KCI and would like more for the money.

For years, he said, KCI had predictability going for it but even that is fading with longer security lines and other problems.

It lacks restrooms and things as basic as enough plugs to charge electronic devices, he said, and the few restaurants and shops often shut down at 6 p.m.

He said a business traveler asked him, “Why would I want to attract and bring business in here if the town rolls up at 6?”

The business input differed sharply from the last group meeting, when airline operators said that toney new airports don’t attract business. The airline executives said added passenger costs to pay for new airports can cut airline profits and result in fewer flights.

The study group set at Feb. 10 date for a public hearing on the future of the airport. It will be from 6 to 8 p.m., with the location announced later.

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