KCI debate continues

airlines-2Among comparable airports to KCI, airfare increases followed a national average whether cities upgraded or replaced airports or not, experts said Tuesday.

Officials with the Kansas City Aviation Department reported that to the city council aviation committee.

The issue of higher fares has played into the debate over whether to replace KCI with a single terminal airport or to renovate it.

The fear is airlines would vastly increase fares if they have to pay for a new airport, although advocates contend a new airport would be cheaper than renovation.

Justin Meyer, marketing director with the aviation department showed charts of the 19 comparable airports that showed their gradual increase in rates followed the national average.

“No matter what we do at KCI, he said, “…I believe fares are going to increase.”

A citizen study group and an airlines study group have supported replacing KCI, which opened in 1972, with a single terminal airport.

But many citizens and some council members question this.

Among the most critical of a new airport is Councilwoman Teresa Loar, who on Tuesday questioned experts about charts that showed no increase in KCI passengers from 2000 to 2015.

She asked how that meshed with financial projections of a 40 percent increase in passengers by 2035.

John Green, aviation department chief financial officer, said the 40 percent increase meshes with national Federal Aviation Administration projections of 1.9 percent increase a year.

Loar countered, “Our growth has been flat for 15 years and now all the sudden we’re going to have a 1.9 percent growth from now on?”

Officials said KCI had passenger growth of 3.4 percent last fiscal year and is up 9.6 percent this year.



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