Indianapolis opened their new 1.1 billion dollar terminal in 2008, replacing what was a very dated and mediocre customer experience. I’d been there. I’ve not been to the new terminal yet but as one prolific commenter here reported, they won an award in 2012 for best airport in the region for customer experience.
In their presentation to the Kansas City Council last week, the new terminal proponents noted “Poor Passenger Experience” as the first reason under “Why A New Terminal.” Of course, as evident in the dozens of comments here, most Kansas City passengers disagree. So did the Kansas City Council, saying that KCI was in fact a good customer experience most of the time. They advised the proponents not to try to sell the idea of a new terminal that way. So for now, it appears that one of the new mantras is: We’re losing flights because the airlines don’t like the airport. Build a new one and they will come.
Let’s momentarily set aside echoes from the Sprint Center sales pitch to voters and the promises of NBA and NHL franchises, as well as the seemingly obvious assumption that airlines send flights to where the passengers are and not simply to where photo ops of planes in front of shiny new terminals are. Let’s look at Indy as suggested, now nearly 5 years since opening.
From the Indianapolis Business Journal, January 2013: “Indianapolis Airport Boardings Hit 10-year Low”
If you thought Indianapolis International Airport didn’t seem as busy in 2012 and that tickets were pricier, you’d be correct.
Passenger boardings fell by 2.2 percent last year, to 3.68 million, assistant treasurer Marsha Stone told airport board members on Friday. That’s a low not seen since 2003, according to airport records.
And it was nearly 6 percent less than what officials had projected for 2012.
From CaliforniaAviation.org, July 2011: “Fewer Flights Are Taking Off From Indy”
Nonstop flights have been halted from Indianapolis to Austin and San
Antonio, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; and San Francisco. And the number of daily
round trips to New York’s LaGuardia has been reduced.
An average of 153 flights depart each day from the airport on non-stop trips
to 35 other cities. In 2006, an average of 177 flights took off daily to 40
cities, according to the Indianapolis Airport Authority.
So both Indy and KC are losing flights. The only difference is that they have a shiny, 1.1 billion dollar airport terminal from which to lament.
Let us not mention the elephant in the room, eh?
This proposed destruction paid for by the government and new facility is about the TSA being able to facilitate better people control more than anything else.
Why else would they want to do this and let the out-of-money government pick up the tab so willingly?
Do not confuse motion for action.
I see why the core reason why Kansas City is doing this? It is our believe that we are not good enough and we have adopted a me-too on everything this city does. Every project that we do is because another city did it. If you do not believe me look at the brush creek river; we need to have a river walk like San Antonio. The downtown like Denver. Street cars like DC. A downtown Stadium like LA. Now, a new airport because our rival city has one.
There is not ONE original idea in this whole city.
Here is another cautionary tale from Sacramento: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/03/15/5264271/back-seat-driver-sacramento-international.html
While they won awards, they have shouldered a ton of debt. This is a situation we do not want to be in!
Kevin – I agree, we need to fully understand the impact of 1.2B on the travelers. The last thing we would want is for PFC to sky rocket to cover the new terminal, causing airlines to pull-out and short change our revenue. Hopefully, that plan and information will be shared over the coming months.
While we do have terminal space to spare, it is not conducive to any airline wanting to operate connecting flights. Limited gate holding areas for passengers and lack of gates within one secure checkpoint. Granted Southwest has 7 gates in the same holding area but many times I have flown out people are sitting on the floor,etc. This is even after the terminal was bumped out to accommodate more holding space.
I am trying to understand where in the article posted, does it mention that flights are down due to airlines not wanting to pay higher rent fees? Airlines will fly anywhere assuming the economics work. St Louis used to have some of the highest landing fees in the country due to construction of a new runway, but over the past couple of years their traffic has gone up thanks to flights being added by southwest.
But the problem is that the city is connecting KCI losing flights with the current design and suggesting that if we had a new single terminal, this would not be happening. Indy proves otherwise.
And you are correct that it is economics, not terminal design that drives those decisions. After all, airlines are businesses.
Why is Southwest adding flights in St. Louis? I believe it was suggested at the presentation that it was because St. Louis gave them their own terminal. We could do that now without building a new one. We seem to have a spare. How much of the Southwest’s increase in St. Louis was really due to American pulling out of their hub and creating a void for local travelers that Southwest was in a position to fill?
I would just like to add the comment that the city is claiming the new airport will cost taxpayers nothing and the money is coming from the Aviation Department.Supposedly, ticket fees collected through the years will be appropriated for this project but it has not been approved and the Aviation Department is cutting costs all over the country thanks to the sequester. Even with the money, it won’t cover a $1.2 billion tab and the difference will be made up by the airlines directly and with higher rent.
A business (airlines) looks to maximize revenues and lower expenses. There is nothing we can do about the size of Kansas City but lower ticket prices usually lead to more tickets sold. If the airlines have to help pay for the airport directly and with higher rent, it makes ticket prices higher and Kansas City a less attractive place to add flights not more attractive.
Tim – that is correct, we really need to be cognizant of how much a new terminal could cost airlines. That is a question I intend to ask of the department.
I have friends who will DRIVE from Des Moines and Omaha to catch flights out of KCI because the flights are that much cheaper. I would love to see a study done on how many passengers make KCI a destination because of how low the rates are.
I am pretty sure the airport has done this type of study in the past. I looked for it on their website but didn’t have any luck finding a presentation.