Study reports new KCI terminal is cheaper

Assistant City Manager Pat Klein reported on a new airport study.

Assistant City Manager Pat Klein reported on a new airport study.

A new single terminal airport would be millions of dollars cheaper than renovating KCI, a study group reported Thursday to the city council.

The group made up of airlines that serve KCI, city Aviation Department officials and consultants was formed two years ago after a citizen study group recommended building a new airport.

The current aviation study group will not make its recommendations for months but updated findings for the city council, which includes nine new members.

They reported costs in 2015 dollars would be as little as $964 million for a new single terminal airport, compared to from $1.04 billion to $1.9 billion for renovating two terminals.

None of the money would come from Kansas City taxpayers but aviation revenue bonds to pay for much of it would have to be approved by a citywide vote.

Higher fees and prices at the airport would also be involved and airline executives are meeting to determine what they consider an acceptable overall project cost.

Sheri Ernico, a consultant working with the aviation department, said the process that involves airlines so much in ongoing planning is unique and a national model.

But Councilwoman Teresa Loar angrily attacked the process and said a council member should have been involved in the group’s meetings.

She’s “sick and tired” of hearing a new terminal has been decided, she said. “That will fail miserably on the ballot right now.”

Mayor Sly James said no council members were part of the study group because proprietary airline business numbers were involved and because officials hoped to keep politics out of technical matters.

The reports to the council keep it updated and the political debate will continue, he said. “It’s not like the council has been living in some cave in this whole process.”

Councilman Quinton Lucas said the group should provide the council with as much working information as possible, “the more help you can give us, the better.”

The council will have to sell any plan to the voters, he said, and the technical and political efforts work hand in hand.

“To some extent you’re the airline people,” he said, “ but we’re kind of the people people.”

Ernico said the renovation would cost more because the two terminals would have to be gutted and made over to meet modern federal requirements.

The current KCI also has 200,000 square feet of space, much more than needed and much of it in the wrong places, she said.

A new airport could be 750,000 square feet configured properly for growth, security, federal requirements and maintenance and operations costs, she said.

Pat Klein, an assistant city manager working with the group, said the airlines wanted to maintain the  popular convenience of KCI and noted many advantages of a new airport.

The complete power point presentation from the business session


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