WHAT OTHERS SAY: KCI airport may need upgrades, but not an overhaul

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 | 1:20 p.m. CDT

Proponents of building a new, single-terminal Kansas City International Airport are running out of arguments.

This debate began when we were told the current airport was well past its prime and needed to be replaced to meet modern air traffic needs. But then cost estimates showed you could update and adapt the existing structures for far less than building new.

We then were advised a new airport complex would be better for travelers by providing more shopping and dining options, and a more efficient check-in and screening process.

This is when the public overwhelmingly reminded proponents: The current setup is exceptionally convenient for travelers to and from Kansas City, and this convenience trumps most every other argument about passenger needs.

Then there was the claim it is more difficult and costly to provide security across multiple terminals. Wrong again.

No less an authority than the regional director for the Transportation Security Administration on March 25 spoke to the KCI Terminal Advisory Group appointed by Mayor Sly James. According to The Kansas City Star, he delivered this assessment:

  • The current setup for security isn't inefficient. Passenger wait times at screening checkpoints average 10 minutes and likely would not change with a new terminal. Security staffing needs are falling with advances in technology and such steps as pre-screening frequent travelers.
  • The current holding areas for passengers can stand improvement but don't have security deficiencies that are concerning.
  • The current layout has some security advantages, in that passengers arrive and depart in a relatively dispersed manner across multiple terminals rather than through a large central space as seen at larger airports.

What's next for the proponents? Some have spent time recently complaining the airport makes a poor first impression for travelers because its unusual layout can be confusing and it lacks a signature terminal building with big-airport amenities.

Even if there is some truth in this view, you have to wonder how that possibly could justify spending more than $1 billion to implement the plan that has been proposed.

Copyright St. Joseph News-Press. Distributed by the Associated Press.

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