Experts said new airport affordable

A rendering of the new KCI airport.Independent consultants on Tuesday took no position on whether to build a new airport, but said that can be done without big airfare increases.

That counters local airline executives who have said an expensive new airport could drive up fares and reduce profits and flights.

Added to mix, some business leaders have called the aging airport an embarrassment that needs to be replaced.

On Tuesday, Frasca and Associates consultants reported that a new airport should not drive fares up that much. And they said higher costs could be somewhat offset with more revenue from more concessions.

They told the Airport Terminal Advisory Group that KCI is in a good competitive position partly because there are no comparable airports closer than Omaha.

Kansas City, with about 10 million passengers a year, ranks sixth in that category among 20 comparable airports, they said.

The average cost of a flight there is about average at $194 a ticket, they said, but its concession revenues rank last among all the airports.

They also said the three-terminal configuration of KCI was unique among airports.

Federal Aviation Administration officials on Tuesday also said KCI was unique in that respect.

“Some think it is a nightmare,” said Jim Johnson, an FAA director in Kansas City, and “Some people think it’s a dream airport and don’t want to change it at all.”

The task force is to recommend in April on whether to renovate KCI or replace it.

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