Agreements give airlines more control over KCI Airport

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two new contracts governing operations at KCI Airport will be introduced to the Kansas City council Thursday.

Under the agreements, the airlines will gain more control over KCI once the new terminal opens to the public.

Because the airlines are paying the $1.5 billion cost of the new terminal, the new lease that begins once the new KCI becomes operational gives the airlines more power over making changes at the airport.

Frontier Airlines and Spirit haven’t signed the agreement, meaning they must pay 125 percent higher gate fees for the flexibility of not being locked into operating at KCI.

The remaining airlines that have signed the lease gain some veto power over airport improvements.

Under the deal, any project at the airport costing more than $1 million must be approved by more than two-thirds of the airlines, instead of the city or its taxpayers.

“It’s about risk,” aviation deputy director Dave Long said. “Under our current agreement the city and airport have all the risk. In the new agreement, they’re backing the debt and therefore the risk is shifting more toward the airlines and for that you give up a little bit of control.”

Long also says that if there’s not money remaining to tear down Terminals B and C when the new terminal opens, the airlines agree to pay for demolishing the old terminals within five years.

This is important because airport users will go past the old terminals once the new facility opens, and airport managers don’t want a relic of the past remaining on site for very long.

City council members say they already are getting a lot of questions from local businesses who want to set up concessions in the new terminal. They joked about creating a Boulevard beer fountain.

An outreach program to encourage local businesses to set up shop in the new terminal will be discussed by the city’s airport committee next month.

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