KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In just four years tens of thousands of international fans will come from around the globe to World Cup matches in Kansas City. But right now, only fans living in the host countries of the United States, Canada, and Mexico can fly directly to KC.

Kansas City International doesn’t offer direct flights to any nations outside North America. But airport officials say they are already getting interest in adding destinations.

Iceland Air recently named Kansas City the number one destination in the world for a working vacation. Even though Iceland Air no longer flies here and you won’t find any other world city on that list on Kansas City International’s departure board.

Among airports serving between 2 and 3 million surrounding people, Kansas City is one of the few not to offer transatlantic flights.

“I always try to fly direct if I can so if there are some direct options Internationally that would be excellent,” James Seay said before boarding a flight Wednesday.

But travelers see prospects on the horizon.

“We’ve got World Cup coming and we’ve got the new airport (terminal) coming just in time. From being a resident here for a long time, international is critical,” Galen Ericson said.

The new single terminal will double the amount of international gates from 2 to 4.

“The facility certainly will help us, not hurt us, as it becomes a much more easy to use for passengers and airlines alike. Airline lounges that we’ve never had before, those kind of things help put us in a better position,” Kansas City Aviation Deputy Director Justin Meyer said.

As could the World Cup, as international carriers could try to seize the opportunity of Kansas City being the only US host without any direct flights overseas.

Data shows passengers are flying internationally out of KCI. An average 410 KCI passengers a day eventually make their way across the Atlantic after one or two connections. Meyer says the numbers soared with Iceland Air serving Kansas City from 2018 to 2019 before the route fell victim to grounded Boeing 737 Max planes and then the pandemic.

Ultimately, it’s up to airlines to weigh long term cost benefit.

“They decide on what markets they fly to, the airport doesn’t get to choose.  All we can do is best position Kansas City and Kansas City International Airport for success.”

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