New Term PresI was unable to attend the committee and Council meetings today due to job obligations but did receive a couple of emails from people in the committee meeting and was able to catch a few minutes of the council online. Here are some initial thoughts…

The email from the committee meeting said:

Russ Johnson shut down comments and questions while Patrick Tuohey spoke, not letting the gentleman ask his questions.  It was clear they were not interested in questions or feedback. There were great comments prior.

This was verified later by a story in the Business Journal that said,

The session also included a question-and-answer question, in which Kansas City residents said the new plan was unnecessary and unwanted, and would put the city into debt. Johnson said those claims are untrue and told the dissenters that the session was not a “public debate forum.”

KMBC-TV’s Michael Mahoney tweeted:

KC City Councilman Russ Johnson ducks camera crew and refuses interview on new KCI airport plan

The part of the council meeting I saw included the last part of the presentation followed by council comments. I was struck by the fact that more than one council member publicly refuted the claims made in the presentation that KCI was a bad experience for travelers. Of course, rather than suggest that the Aviation Department reconsider the proposal, they simply advised them not try to sell the new terminal to the public by saying something that the public knows is completely untrue.

Just prior to the council meeting, the Aviation Department posted the presentation documents online. Among them was a Q&A that, if not quickly assembled this week, was at least tweaked because it references this site which did not even exist this time a week ago.

I’ve not had a chance to really dive in but here it is, with some initial comments in italics.

KCI New Single Terminal
Q&A
April 2013

Q. Why does Kansas City need a new terminal?

A. Going forward, the three terminals at KCI do not make sense financially or
environmentally and cannot accommodate needed modernization for passenger
convenience, airline expansion, baggage and security requirements. A do nothing
approach could result in an EPA violation and a finding of non-compliance.

Be specific. HOW are these measurable issues? As for the EPA, no one is saying do nothing. Surely if we can contain oil spills on oceans, someone can figure out how to deal with the de-icing issue without blowing up an airport.

Q. What happened to the site originally proposed in the Master Plan?
A. We thoroughly explored the financial viability of the initial site, and the needed road and
infrastructure improvements would have made it too costly to build. The new proposed
location at the existing Terminal A provides a financially and environmentally responsible
alternative that is in the best interest of passenger convenience and meets all of the
objectives outlined in the 2008 Master Plan.

The mere fact that the initial site was “thoroughly explored” should disqualify anyone involved with the decision to explore it.  No infrastructure existed but they were surprised by the cost to build it? And still, there is no mention that to have built it there would have made obsolete the brand new rental car facility, all of the city-owned economy parking lots as well as all of the hotels, satellite parking and other businesses that would have found themselves on the “wrong side” of the runway.

Q. Why now?
A. The current terminal design isn’t economically viable in the long term and it won’t meet
security and environmental standards. The planning process taking place right now will
allow us to design a new terminal that meets all these requirements, and better meets
the needs of business and leisure travelers alike.

It’s Kansas City’s turn. Kansas City travelers have contributed for decades – and will
continue to contribute – to the construction of new terminals and airport infrastructure
across the country through federal ticket taxes and travel fees called Passenger Facility
Charges (PFCs) added to every ticket purchase. Now, it is our turn to build a terminal
that meets the needs of our citizen travelers and those visiting Kansas City for business
or pleasure.

We’ve seen exciting changes in Kansas City in the past few years; Kansas City has
experienced a downtown renaissance and the opening of world-class attractions. Now
it’s time for our airport to be part of our economic growth. However, between March 2007
and March 2013, St. Louis added 160 weekly flights with Southwest Airlines while MCI
lost 39 flights with Southwest Airlines. A single modern terminal facility will better
aggregate demand to help support future air service growth.

Again, no specifics, just emotional greed-playing. The reference to Southwest in St. Louis is interesting but perhaps irrelevant. How much was due to other airlines leaving the market and leaving service holes? Southwest does not send airplanes to pretty airports (St. Louis is proof of that) they send them where there are people who want to fly somewhere. If there was a shift in flights, it was because more people in St. Louis wanted to fly where Southwest goes. Let’s remember that the St. Louis market is still larger than KC even though within the city limits, they are smaller.

Q. Why are you proposing this when Kansas Citians clearly don’t want it?

A. We understand that Kansas Citians have an emotional connection to KCI and want to
maintain the convenience and efficiency they currently enjoy. We do too. The new single
terminal concept will preserve everything Kansas City travelers love about KCI, including
improved curb-side drop-off and pick-up, convenience, comfort and safety. Kansas City
travelers will still be able to get in and out of KCI as quickly as they do today, but in a
single terminal with state-of-the-art security, baggage and amenities.We know that we need to have a conversation with Kansas Citians about the challenges
of our current airport and build support for the new concept. We will be reaching out to
residents for their input and involvement and engaging them throughout the planning
process.

In addition, it is important to note that there are just as many businesses and individuals
who support creating a modern airport that supports the growth and innovation for which
our city is becoming known, while maintaining the ease and convenience of KCI that
many travelers love.

How condescending. Someone on the council actually said that there had been a similar “emotional connection” to Kemper Arena that got in the way of Sprint Center. Huh??? There was no such thing. My only “emotional connection” to KCI is an emotional connection to facts, logic, convenience, time-saving and not spending over a billion dollars on something that will be a step backwards in those areas if we don’t have to. Show me some proof that “Kansas City travelers will still be able to get in and out of KCI as quickly as they do today”. Today I can go from my office near downtown to a seat on the plane in 25 minutes. Coming back, I can go from my seat on the plane to a waiting car out front in less than two minutes. I’m from Missouri. Show Me. Prove it or stop making bogus claims.

Q. What is your reaction to the new SaveKCI web site?

A. We understand that Kansas Citians have an emotional connection to KCI and want to
maintain the convenience and efficiency they currently enjoy. We do too. The new single
terminal concept will preserve everything Kansas City travelers love about KCI, including
improved curb-side drop-off and pick-up, convenience, comfort and safety. Kansas City
travelers will still be able to get in and out of KCI as quickly as they do today, but in a
single terminal with state-of-the-art security, baggage and amenities.
We know that we need to have a conversation with Kansas Citians on the challenges of
our current airport and build support for the new concept. We will be reaching out to
residents for their input and involvement throughout the planning process.

My reaction is a chuckle. This site did not even exist a week ago and it is question 5 on the Q&A. Were you that surprised that “we the people” might actually care? And again, quit with the “emotional connection.” Perhaps we should look at the emotional connection the Council and Aviation Department have with the idea of a bright-shiny new toy that WE have to pay for. Are they “emotionally connected” to the idea of a big new plaque with all of their names on it?

Read the rest of the Q&A and other info here and feel free to comment below. Like I noted above, I have a job and I’m wasting all of the time I save by travelling through the most efficient airport in the U.S. on trying to save it.