A brighter future for Kansas City International Airport came into better focus Wednesday.
A citizens task force recommended building a single terminal to replace the existing three terminals, as long as that can be done in a cost-effective way.
That important question must be fully explored and completely answered in the next 12 to 18 months by the city's Aviation Department, the airlines that serve KCI and consultants.
This region deserves a more modern airport that will deliver convenient experiences for millions of local travelers and visitors every year.
The best way to serve passengers into the next half-century is not to maintain a status quo that includes 42-year-old buildings with crumbling infrastructure and a lack of passenger services.
The KCI Terminal Advisory Group overwhelmingly backed exploring the single terminal option for compelling reasons.
KCI’s current arrangement too often lacks amenities that today's passengers demand. Those include large, comfortable secured areas that offer a wide range of concessions, some shops, restrooms and waiting areas with plenty of plug-ins for the phones, tablets, laptops and other devices carried by traveling Americans.
A new terminal also would feature modern heating, cooling, plumbing and safety features. And it would offer a more upbeat image of the city to travelers who are visiting the city or just passing through.
Opponents of an airport overhaul contend the convenience factor of the current terminals trumps all. They complain that long walks exist at some major airports. However, a new terminal in Kansas City would not be nearly as massive as those in most larger cities. So while the task force decision will be unpopular with many citizens, The Kansas City Star welcomes the exploration of a new single-terminal solution.
Still, the advice given Wednesday was just that — advice. Mayor Sly James and the City Council for good reasons will wait for the outcome of negotiations over KCI’s future between the airlines that serve the airport and the city’s Aviation Department.
As that occurs, city officials especially must keep an eye on how much a single terminal would cost the traveling public without any tax increase.
If the city seeks voter approval for such a massive project, Kansas City residents need assurance that solid financing plans are in place to create an airport that will serve this community exceptionally well for decades to come.
Copyright Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.