(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — A representative for the four major airlines at Kansas City International Airport told a citizens task force that proposed changes to the airport could lead to less service for passengers if the renovations are too costly.
Ron Ricks, executive vice president of Southwest Airlines, said Tuesday that a new terminal likely will not increase flights or passenger demand in Kansas City. Ricks said he was speaking for his airline, as well as Delta, United and American/US Air — the four major carriers at KCI.
The KCI Terminal Advisory Group is studying proposals to upgrade the airport, either by renovating the current three terminals or replacing them with one, larger terminal, The Kansas City Star reported.
A preliminary estimate for a new terminal, parking garage and other improvements is $1.2 billion, although aviation officials hope to reduce the cost.
“Higher cost can lead to less service, not more,” Ricks said.
Ricks predicted KCI will see only “incremental” passenger growth in the near future, with or without a new terminal. And he said he didn’t expect a new terminal to increase the airports’ access to more nonstop domestic or international markets.
“The terminals do not generate or impact demand,” he said, adding that airlines fly where they can make money and passengers choose flights based on schedule and fare.
Aviation strategy consultant Mike Boyd said Kansas City is “between a rock and a hard place,” considering an expensive upgrade without any promise that the airline industry will grow. But “there are costs to not modernizing” and Kansas Citians should not instinctively oppose any airport changes, he said in a telephone interview from his Denver area office.
Boyd is not consulting on KCI’s current plans but agrees with the city’s aviation officials that the current 40-year-old, three-terminal configuration is antiquated and inefficient.
The task force will hear from business leaders on Jan. 28 and hold public hearings in February and March. It plans to issue its recommendations in April.