Southwest Airlines is a great brand known for consistency and straightforwardness. So it’s confusing as a resident and concerning as a customer to see them apparently talking out of both sides of the airplane.
Most recently Southwest’s spokesperson and director of airport affairs, Steve Cisneros, has been on board with the idea of a new terminal. Whether that’s because like the mayor’s task force, the airlines have not been given a legitimate renovation proposal to review, I can’t say. I can say that reasons now being given for a new terminal are the complete opposite of what the now Vice Chairman of Southwest told the task force a couple of years ago.
As I reported in November 2013:
Ron Ricks, Executive Vice President for Southwest, had several money quotes today in a well-written Kansas City Star article by Kevin Collison. And while many seem obvious or touch on observations presented here before, it is the first time that they have been stated publicly by an airline official and most importantly, from the airline that represents half the traffic at KCI.
- A new $1.2 billion terminal would triple our costs. That’s a problem.
- The airline, which operates an average of 70 flights daily at KCI, believes that the current runway and gate capacities are more than adequate for future air service, and that the airport functions efficiently.
- Customers don’t make a choice of flights based on amenities; it’s more based on choice of flights and cost. Our question is how many amenities do you want at what cost?
- A $1.2 billion proposal would be a disincentive for airlines to service Kansas City.… We’re confident we could come up with something for the community at a much lower cost than what’s being presented here.
- Right now, Kansas City’s lower operating cost gives it an advantage over larger hub airports such as Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta Hartsfield when it comes to playing host to connecting flights. That could change if costs jump substantially.
- Connecting passengers are really important. We wouldn’t be profitable on local passengers alone.
So what changed, besides Mr. Ricks being promoted to Vice Chairman of the Board at Southwest? Moreover, where is the media on this? (Ok, we know where the Star is but what about those who don’t have offices in City Hall?) There are several pretty significant contradictions here that beg questions? Mr. Collison, who has tweeted support for a new terminal, no longer works at the Star but reports for KCUR. I could find no evidence of any stories there about these contradictions from Southwest. I invite him and others to link to such coverage in the comments below.