Consultants: KCI needs one terminal

They say a new design would make the airport more efficient

? Despite criticism from some travelers, consultants continue to recommend that Kansas City International Airport’s three terminals be replaced with a single terminal.

The proposed single terminal would be more efficient than the current three-terminal layout, consultant Russell Blanck told a crowd at a public hearing last week.

The single terminal would have one centralized security checkpoint, a concourse for concessionaires and shops and four wings for gates.

“We think this provides a very efficient scheme,” said Blanck, a consultant for Landrum & Brown, an Orlando, Fla.-based firm overseeing the master plan.

Travelers who use the 35-year-old airport say they enjoy the convenience of walking a few hundred feet between their gate, baggage carousel and land transportation in the three, C-shaped terminals that now comprise KCI. They also say that KCI has fewer delays and shorter lines than other airports.

Roger Dutton, of Kansas City, said KCI is the most convenient airport he uses in his frequent travels.

“The security is more personal, efficient and of better quality,” Dutton said. “It would be a dire mistake to change this concept, even if a single terminal would have lower security costs.”

But airport officials say the three terminals will be at capacity in less than 20 years.

And the consultants and Kansas City Aviation director Mark VanLoh have said the current format is inefficient because it requires several security checkpoints and does not allow retailers to make maximum profits.

“We are looking 20 or 30 years down the road when more people will be flying,” he said. “KCI will not be as convenient as it is now.”

No costs have been determined. VanLoh said the city should receive a final version of the master plan next spring.

The plan would have to be approved by the City Council and then adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Because the FAA requires airports to update their master plans every 10 years, another master plan probably would precede construction of a single terminal, VanLoh said.

The recommended plan would provide access from the south, the consultant said. It would also have a covered parking garage and a light-rail station next to the airport entrance.

And with the wings, which are in something of an X shape, Blanck said travelers still would walk a relatively short distance.

The three existing terminals eventually could house smaller general-aviation operations, he said, while the terminal parking garages could be for long-term parking.