While most of the recent conversation concerning Kansas City International Airport has focused on the question of who’s paying for what, the question of what is actually needed has yet to be decided. Moreover, Landrum & Brown, the expert consultants who the Aviation Department paid millions of dollars to help answer this question, has sent conflicting data.
In the 2009 KCI Master Plan Study, L&B looked at KCI’s projected needs through 2030. They recommended that a new 59-gate terminal be built starting in 2016, with the idea that it could be expanded to 93 gates in 2030. Yes, 59 gates, expanding to 93.
Of course, our current three terminal arrangement has over 60 gates available now.
Just 4 years later in 2013, the single-terminal that was proposed had only 37 gates. In fairness, future traffic growth projections had been lowered although not proportionately to the drop in recommended gates.
However, current growth is exceeding those projections and might even be exceeding the original projections. In 2009, L&B projected 2.8% annual enplanement growth. In 2015, their growth projection was trimmed back to 1.9%. But just this week, the Aviation Department reported that 2017 traffic was up nearly 6% YTD.
So why is the terminal now being discussed from Burns & McDonnell even smaller than the 2013 proposal? Why does it have only 35 gates if current growth is exceeding that projected when they recommended 59 gates? Why are we spending 2.5 billion dollars over 30 years to downsize from what we already have?
Somewhere in all the conflicting data and recommendations du jour is reality. Doesn’t it make sense to first agree on what is really needed before worrying about how we pay for it?