When it comes to the future of the Kansas City International Airport (KCI), I’ve mostly kept my opinions to myself…
But with all of the ridiculous claims being made by both sides of the controversial airport issue, it’s time for me jump into the fray and straighten some of you guys out.
Past time, actually.
Claims like that nearby airports like Branson and Wichita are trying to lure carriers away from Kansas City are asinine. Sure they’ve been able to attract discounters like AirTran (soon to merge into Southwest) and Frontier to serve their particular markets.
But do you know why—and at what cost?
It’s because those smaller cities and/or their chambers of commerce have guaranteed a profit to those carriers.
In other words, if the local boardings and fares bottom lines don’t stay in the black, the local communities have to make up the differences.
And by the way, neither one of those carriers have pulled out of MCI.
Ever take trip via Burbank’s (Bob Hope-BUR) airport? That’s a case of functional ease on display.
As for KCI, pity the family that’s coming here on an express flight from somewhere in Kansas, Missouri or Nebraska and connecting in Kansas City.
Let’s say their final destination is Cancun from our international airport. They may arrivive at one terminal where they’ll have to first claim their luggage, then ride a bus to terminal C, where they have to re-check their bags and go through security AGAIN in order to get on Frontier’s non-stop flight to the Mexican resort.
And their return trip is even more fun!
They’ll claim their luggage in (international) terminal C and go through customs. Then they have to take a bus to the terminal of their connecting airline and re-check their luggage. And finally, they must go through security AGAIN.
What do you mean, everything is up to date in Kansas City?
And while there are numerous carriers that once served KCI, most of them are mere memories today.
The list goes on; Eastern, Midway, Pan Am, Vanguard, TWA, Braniff, Ozark, Air Midwest, Midwest Express and America West…just to name a few.
BTW,America West actually bought out bankrupt USAirways and kept the latter name.
We have also served as a hub airport off and on through the years. Like with Braniff and our two defunct hometown airlines, TWA and Vanguard.
Will we ever be a hub again?
Kansas City just isn’t large enough of a market to qualify these days.
KCI is no JFK, ORD, DFW, DEN or even STL—not to mention that the nation’s major airline count has shrunk severely.
And it’s not over yet!
The chances are definitely better.
If I were a gambling person, my best bet would be for JetBlue to become such a new entrant at KCI. Just as Alaskan Air and Air Canada did with limited service. What I don’t see is Virgin America or Spirit showing up here anytime soon.
Finally, look at what’s transpired in the airline industry since KCI received its last makeover.
*** United took over Continental.
*** Delta bought Northwest.
*** Southwest aquired AirTran (and is in the process of merging it into the Southwest brand.)
*** USAirways is picking up American and will merge it into one carrier using the heritage American name.
Frontier Airlines? Who knows what the future holds for them.
I predict that their current ownership—Republic Airlines-–will cut them lose, sooner rather than later.
So in just the past few years, four major carriers serving KCI have gone away—or soon will. Consolidation is the name of the game today.
And on top of that, KCI is one of just a handful of airports in the nation where the TSA has farmed out its security functions to a private screening contractor.
Kansas City’s independent screening contract is currently held by FirstLine Transportation Security, Inc.
What does it all mean?
That’s not to say I’m totally agreeing with the concept of a whole NEW airport. But the current under served three terminal setup is outdated and in need of major changes for all parties.
Agree or disagree, that’s the way I’m seeing KCI today.