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Demolish or Renovate? What’s to Become of Kansas City International Airport?

Demolish or Renovate? What’s to Become of Kansas City International Airport?
Jennifer Billock

The Kansas City airport needs changes, that much is sure; but agreeing on what those changes should be is proving to be a challenge.

Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is facing a definite change of scenery. The airport is more than 40 years old, is lacking gate and security space, uses outdated operating systems and parts of its infrastructure are crumbling, but whether MCI will simply undergo renovation or see a brand-new terminal constructed is still up in the air.

At the behest of the city’s aviation department, a study was done to assess the costs of the two renovation options. The study’s findings, released last week, found that a renovation project on the existing structure would cost more than $1 billion, while a complete demolish and rebuild would be substantially cheaper.

In light of the study’s findings, Kansas City Mayor Sly James stressed that regardless of whether MCI gets a new terminal or a renovation, taxpayers will not be responsible for construction costs, as those will be covered by bonds that will be repaid through airline fees and concession sales at the airport. Despite the mayor’s reassurance, community members are still wondering how the debate will turn out and how it will affect them.

“It’s all going to come down to what the cost is going to be and whether the voters are going to stand for it,” Dan Coffey, leader of the Friends of KCI community group, told The Kansas City Star. “If they’re going to tear down the existing terminals the voters are going to want to know what they’re going to replace them with, and it better be good.”

The study group is expected to release a more comprehensive recommendation by next spring. At that time, the plans will then be put to a public vote.

[Photo: Kansas City International Airport]


View Comments (9)


  1. travelinterpreters

    July 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    MCI is my home airport, I just flew out of it today to Sydney. The airport is great, if you don’t check a bag you can be outside in less than two minutes after getting off of the plane. Sly would LOVE to put his name on a new single terminal is what it really comes down to.

  2. Doc Savage

    Doc Savage

    July 27, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    The yoyos in KC have already gone to the well of hosing their passenger with usurious fees too often. If they try to jack up fees much for airlines, the airlines will simply leave, making MCI a single spoke from some one airline’s hub. Sounds like a loudmouth populist mayor with little foresight. YMMV

  3. shawn67

    July 27, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    MCI was outdated with the Black September hijackings almost as soon as it opened and tried to cater to an airline that disappeared a long time ago. Good Riddance!!!

  4. TMOliver

    July 28, 2015 at 5:59 am

    A new terminal would be far preferable than any attempt to make use of current facilities, absolutely obsolete from security, operational and other aspects. The once proud dream has turned into a barely usable nightmare, out-strpped in a utilitarian sense by a dozen other airports, some smaller.

    of course, the original designers and architects should have had their epaulets and medals stripped, their swords broken, and drummed out of the corps for a design which was already “trailing edge” at inception.

  5. landgraf13

    July 28, 2015 at 9:40 am

    As someone who used to fly through MCI a few times a year for work I absolutely love that airport. Hands down one of my favorites. It brought me back to the days of old where you could pull up curbside and be on the plane often within 5 minutes, sometimes cutting it close. Yes it’s not sexy or updated or state of the art, but then again, nothing in KC is. I’d take it any day over many of the more modern airports.

  6. Bluesman62

    July 28, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Good riddance! Lord help you if you have to do anything other than pull up out front and board your flight. It is a nightmare if you are stuck for any amount of time due to IRROPS or layover. Woefully inadequate seating, restroom, and food facilities inside the sterile area. I’ve seen lines 15-20 deep just to get into a restroom, and have had to literally step over passengers relegated to floor seating just to de-plane.

  7. DonCarpenter

    July 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I have only flown from KCI once, but as dated as it was, it was a pleasant place. I can see why they’d need to update though.

  8. sdsearch

    July 28, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    The airport was designed before 9-11 in a way different from most airports with very little space to put airside (between security and the gate ramps). As a result, when more security was needed after 9-11, it may have continued to work well for many locals, but worked more poorly for people connecting, because there was no way to have one continuous airside for all gates for all airlines, with adequate airside facilities, despite it being on one terminal. For example, it has made it very hard to build stuff like adequate bathrooms airside, since there is so little space airside per gate, and so airlines are complaining about people lining up to use the airplane restroom as soon as they get on board, thus delaying flights.

  9. calrick

    July 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I loved flying in and out of MCI… drop off at the curb and 30 seconds to the gate… what a gem… just polish it.

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