While “convenience” is most often cited as the reason people like Kansas City International Airport in its current configuration, there is another big reason the mayor put the project on hold last year. Trust, or lack of trust, in the city on this issue based on our experience over the past few years. Perhaps it’s time to at least consider a new custodian for our airport.
Maybe it’s time to privatize KCI.
The Trump administration is talking about helping fund major infrastructure projects. The Star reports that KCI is relatively high on the list. But in addition to revenue streams and immediate job goals, the administration is looking for public/private partnerships. There have been two excellent articles recently on airport privatization.
In December, Patrick Tuohey of the Show-Me Institute introduced the idea to the KCI conversation and cited a Cato Institute article that offered:
Airports should be self-funded by revenues from passengers, airlines, concessions, and other sources. Federal subsidies should be phased out, and state and local governments should privatize their airports to improve efficiency, competitiveness, and passenger benefits.
Then this week, The Wall Street Journal joined the conversation adding:
American airports are typically run by politicians in conjunction with the dominant airlines, which help finance the terminals in return for long-term leases on gates and facilities. The airlines use their control to keep out competitors; the politicians use their share of the revenue to reward unionized airport workers. No one puts the passenger first.
Citing a case in Puerto Rico where until 4 years ago, the San Juan airport was run by the local port authority, the article noted that dramatic changes have already taken place under private management:
Airlines no longer control the gates, but they’re reaping other benefits. “We’re paying lower fees for a much better airport,” says Michael Luciano, who runs Delta’s operations in San Juan. “Almost every area has been renovated. You go into any restroom, and it’s bright and clean—things like that are really important to our customers.” Passenger volume has been growing 4% annually, well above the industry average.
Both articles are worthy of your review and the idea of privatization at KCI is certainly worthy of inclusion into our airport conversation.
I’m with Joe, the “problem” with KCI for the politicians like Mayor James is that it isn’t much of a pork-barrel to begin with – it’s a people’s airport, the airlines come and go, flights come and go on the basis of local usage and that’s why the actual User’s are well acquainted with its advantages.
There is all that potentially developable land not needed to support airlines operations that could be available to productive use. The logical developer for that is a revamped ATA which would use proceeds to make Smart City investments in the future of transportation – which in the KC Region is an even bigger challenge that luring people to the Convention Hotel – but one we have no choice but to address.
Hell, while you’re at it why not turn over Airport Operations to the ATA, isn’t that their core business. Let KCMO keep title and charge rent, that’s okay with me. If we want to grow up here’s a way.
The Branson Mo airport is currently the only privately owned, privately operated commercial service airport in the United States as National Express Group Plc. reverted control of Stewart International Airport to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. What other airports are you looking at that are successful?
Did you read the articles cited? And Branson’s demise has less to do with airport management than with traffic demand. Apples and Oranges.
Privatizing KCI would mean running the airport for profit. If you do that, you’re going to get the number crunchers insisting on a new airport/shopping center so as to generate more revenue from stores. The public was heard loud and clear by Sly James. Would the new owners of KCI have any interest in listening to the public’s preference for convenience?
I’m certainly not saying that it’s a good idea. It might very well be a lousy one. But other airports seem to be having success with it so it’s worth taking a look at as it’s something that was never considered by the mayor’s task force nor to my knowledge the subsequent aviation committee.
Privatizing would mean taking ego agendas out and putting profit/success agendas in. So making the airport a lousy experience for travelers and airlines would be the last thing they would want to do.
Number crunchers would insist on shopping ONLY if their research showed demand for it. The city on the other hand is of the “build it and they will come” mindset. There is evidence that there is not the demand for it that the city says there is. Moreover, the current food/beverage provider was excluded from the mayor’s task force along with the EPA. The Pitch later uncovered that the Aviation Department’s claims that we were in violation with the EPA were refuted by the EPA.
Again, I’m only thinking it’s worth a little research.
Branson Mo is the only privately owned, privately operated commercial service airport in the United States…They’re down to about 4 flights a day…where are these airports having success under private ownership?
Did you read the articles cited?
Can’t read the wall st. have to subscribe, thats not going to happen. so tell me how many airports are privately operated??
Worst idea ever.
New article on privatization. While most of it discusses ownership, another option not discussed is public/private investment on terminal improvements. This is how Southwest was able to save hundreds of millions in Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale. http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/development/article139257068.html