KC Chamber Gives Thumbs-Up, but Travelers Give Thumbs-Down to KCI Plan

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a plan to consolidate operations at Kansas City International Airport from three terminals into one - but the plan remains unpopular with many air travelers, who say the convenience of the current facility can't be beat.

The current three-terminal configuration at KCI was considered state-of-the-art when they opened 40 years ago, but airport officials call the facility hopelessly outdated. They claim that a single terminal will improve operational efficiency and passenger safety at the airport - especially in light of the security changes that had to be made in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Travelers making connections at KCI to other flights say that going out and then back in through security at another gate is a pain.

"I don't think the airport is going to grow if it continues like this, because the model just doesn't work," said Linda Walton of Palo Alto, California. "It must cost a fortune to have all these various x-ray machines and security checkpoints, bathrooms, restaurant facilities, inside."

But many travelers who begin and end their trips in Kansas City say that they like the current design, calling the airport one of the most convenient airports in the nation thanks to easy access to gates and parking. They say that making KCI like every other big-city airport in the nation would be a mistake.

"This is a pleasant airport, actually, because I've been to O'Hare, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, and it seems like you walk in and have to catch trams to get wherever you go," said Shirley Gibbs of Lebanon, Missouri. "It's very confusing. As you get older, it's tiresome."

The final redesign plan for KCI won't be ready for 18 months. The project would be paid for by the airlines, the federal government and airport user fees, and construction could start as soon as 2014 - with a new single terminal ready for operation by 2016.

FOX 4 tried to contact Kansas City Chamber of Commerce president Jim Heeter about the group's endorsement, but he was unavailable for comment.

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