A week or so ago, in light of the continuing escalation costs of a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport, I posed a simple question: How will we make the projected $125 million dollar annual debt payments when we currently have less than a third of that amount available annually?
I’m still waiting for something other than, “That’s a good question.”
Since the city is (hopefully) aggressively looking for new revenue streams, and since I have since seen recent correspondence from the FAA saying, “we do not anticipate the use of federal funds in the KCI Terminal Replacement Project,” I again call the city’s attention to Amazon Air (formerly Prime Air) Amazon’s rapidly growing air cargo arm.
I first suggested someone try to land their inevitable air cargo hub in May 2016. To my knowledge nothing happened and Amazon announced a $1.5 billion investment in a new cargo hub in Cincinnati in January of 2017. I pointed this out just before the new terminal election in October 2017, stating, “As we prepare to vote on a billion dollar new terminal, it would be reassuring to know that we are already out there doing everything we can to ensure its financial security.” Of course, I’ve not read or heard of any efforts with Amazon Air since.
It was announced last week that Amazon Air is adding another ten 767s to their fleet, bringing the total to 50. Additionally, they are building a new regional hub at an airport in Fort Worth and expanding their cargo facility at the Rockford airport outside Chicago to 200,000 square feet. They are also building a sorting facility at an airport between Dayton and Cincinnati.
Note however that not only is KCI missing from these conversations, but so are the major passenger airports in Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago. Amazon Air is finding homes at regional airports similar to New Century near Olathe. With the giant Amazon fulfillment center already next door in Edgerton, another nearby in Lenexa, an even larger one on the way in KCK, and a runway that is already long enough for 767 cargo versions, it might be an easier putt for them. But KCI has more available land and more runway capacity. One would also think KCI to be more motivated. Do we have anyone who wants to play or are we just planning on requiring every passenger to buy a $70 hot dog once the new terminal opens?
It would be foolish not to assume that JoCo officials are already in conversation with Amazon Air. When do we get to hear what Kansas City and Platte County development officials have been doing with Amazon other than shopping?