There was once a young man who suffered from auto envy. One day, he came home and told his wife that he’d always wanted a Corvette and wanted to trade the SUV. She pointed out to him that their growing family would not all fit in a Corvette. Moreover, the payments would max their credit limit and they likely wouldn’t be able to get another car until the Corvette was paid off. And their insurance would go up. The young man pushed back pointing out that increased prestige from being a Corvette owner would advance his career, impressing clients and his boss, leading to more income that would more than pay for the Corvette. And besides, his friend just got one. His wife was unmoved and since she controlled the checkbook, he decided to put the conversation on hold until he could think of a new strategy. However, he did close the garage in preparation for the Corvette and they had to inconveniently park on the street.
A few months later, he took her out to a nice dinner and at an opportune moment mentioned that he had solved all the problems with how to pay for the Corvette. The company would buy it for him and simply withhold money from his check so she would not have to pay for it. While she was trying to figure out how he thought that was a better deal he added that they could simply stack the kids if needed in the smaller space and they could share a seat belt. The End.
At the core of the NewKCI/SaveKCI issue is desire vs need. Unlike the airports held up as examples for us, Austin, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Dallas Love, etc. where there was both demand exceeding capacity and/or facilities much older than KCI, the KCI issue began with a desire to “Keep up with the Joneses” rather than an obvious need. This is why the conversation so quickly became an argument.
Many of the supposed reasons offered when this all began have been long since refuted. There never was an EPA concern, TSA told us they like the multiple checkpoints and won’t let us reduce the footprint significantly in a single terminal. And as the city only makes 15% or so on concessions, it would take an astronomical increase to have more than a tick on the bottom line.
New reasons though have since developed, some of which have merit. Southwest’s business model has changed and while they said they liked the airport the way it was in 2013, and expected it to serve them well into the foreseeable future, they changed their mind only a couple of years later. Of course they, along with the other airlines, are not willing to commit any service to a “build it and we will come” model. They are merely now saying, “Don’t build it and we likely won’t come as much.” This of course, in spite of the new service announced this year and last, including that in the ads on the bottom of this page.
These and other issues, such as financing models, still need to be vetted (no pun intended) and discussed. But I don’t think we can hope for consensus while we are still arguing about facts. Some people are still claiming there can be 90 gates in the current three terminals. 62 is a number I see a lot. Last Saturday at a “listening session” we were told that there are a maximum of 47 jet bridges available between all three of which we are using 31. The proposed terminal will have 35, expandable (at an additional cost yet to be determined) to 42.
Until everyone can agree on the simple facts, there will be no agreement on the more complex issues – not the least of which is how much need is there vs. want.
I do agree that with the population of Kansas City that most residents of Kansas City should expect no more than 1 plane change(outside regional connection flights) on any mainline flights. Otherwise; a traveler starting at Kansas City attempting to reach Miami, Atlanta, Phoenix; should have either a direct flight available through Kansas City, DFW, or ORD, PHX/LAX available. Or at least a similar connection scheme that places a traveler at their destination city with only 2 flights. Flying out of Kansas City with only a 2 flight Burdon eases international traveling such that there is no need for an intermediate hotel stay before reaching an international destination. This policy places a traveler at their international destination in about a 12 to 24 hour period, or it sets up a traveler to reach the launch city towards their international destination at the conclusion of their second flight.
It say the least; there should be no need for anything other than a regional flight, or a rental car at the conclusion of a second domestic flight from Kansas City.
While I enjoy the illuminating parable, using it might run the risk of keeping the issue mired in the question of “what can we afford” rather than your headline question of what do we need.
No matter how you look at it KCI is only one aspect of a regional transportation system in a region that has always thrived on being a logistics hub. Put the future of air travel – to and from Kansas City – in the context of all mobility factors (including digital ones) that are important to the future of the Region’s economic well-being. Then ask yourself how you, as a stakeholder in that Region, benefit from spending one extra dollar on amenities at KCI? If you can come up with a credible answer to that question then by all means back a new terminal.
Many of us who’ve listened at great length to assertions such as “KCI is our front door, it has to look shiny new (or we’re No-Place)” are still waiting to here a range of scenarios for that overall transportation infrastructure picture in which anything other than the original Muncey modernization plan makes any sense at all. If there was such an argument we would have heard it by now.