NEW MCI RENOVATION CONCEPT SHOT DOWN BY AIRLINES

Compared to other airports throughout the country, Kansas International Airport, which services both Kansas and Missouri, is unique. Instead of long walkways and terminals, this airport, which is referred to as MCI, has three horseshoe-shaped terminals that make parking, curb drop-off, embarking, debarking, and baggage claim quick and easy. However, MCI needs updating to accommodate anticipated growth.

Unfortunately, all of the nine major renovation proposals submitted have been declined for one reason or another. The latest renovation concept to be shot down by the airlines was submitted by Crawford Architects LLC. According to members of the Kansas City Council’s Airport Committee, there were inadequacies pertaining to customer service, flexibility, and operational efficiency.

SUBMITTED PROPOSALS

Although representatives from the consulting firm AvAirPros prefers to build a new MCI terminal, committee members quickly shot back with questions as to why a new terminal is required. Members of the committee agreed that the opinions of the airlines were critical because decisions about flights could be affected and the airlines would be financially responsible for a new or renovated terminal.

AvAirPros COO, Lou Salomon, stressed that his firm is planning for the future. The renovation plan submitted by Crawford Architects was rejected by Salomon. For that concept, MCI would be modernized, while retaining the unique horseshow-shaped buildings, for $672 million.

As part of Crawford’s plan, the width for a specific area of Terminal A would be widened, space freed up to accommodate baggage reclaim, concession, and retail shopping areas, and two high-capacity security checkpoints added. Crawford also proposed deferring de-icer and maintenance issues and adding new floors to the parking garage.

Salomon claims that Crawford’s plan was independently done without any participation from the airlines or Aviation Department. For that reason, Crawford was unaware of program requirements. However, Salomon said that if Crawford had those requirements, the solution would be different. Therefore, council woman Teresa Loar asked Crawford to submit a new plan that would help her understand why renovation was significantly more expensive than an entirely new terminal.

Two additional proposals involved creating space by filling an area between two terminals. The cost of these proposals were $1.91 billion and $1.046 billion — far more than the renovation plan submitted by Crawford.

Salomon agrees that a new terminal makes perfect sense from an airline perspective. Because airplanes are getting larger, gate flexibility and increasing the number of gates would be essential. In looking at things from a functional perspective, however, the major renovations suggested by Crawford and others did not allow for the level of functionality and flexibility required. Considering that MCI will see an approximate 40-percent growth rate by 2030, change is inevitable.

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