Cost estimate lowered for new Kansas City International Airport

Kansas City, Mo. — A long-awaited agreement among most airlines that will fly out of a new Kansas City International Airport could result in a reduction of the project’s cost, according to developers and city officials.

The cost for developing the project will be about $1.5 billion rather than a previous estimate of $1.64 billion, developers said Thursday. The news came a day after six of the eight airlines, the Kansas City Aviation Department and developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate reached a deal on their costs, The Kansas City Star reported.

After years of debate, voters in November 2017 overwhelmingly approved replacing the three-terminal Kansas City International Airport with a single-terminal airport. The city has said no taxpayer money will be used on the project, and airlines will be responsible for cost overruns.

The project was delayed since November for negotiations when two smaller airlines, Allegiant and Spirit, balked at the $1.64 billion budget. The airlines also disagreed over how to share the cost of a baggage handling system valued at $20 million a year.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said having the agreement was a big step after seven years working on the project.

“Folks should understand this is not a negotiation to get on a Lime scooter and ride from one part of town to the other — lots of moving parts, biggest project in the history of this city,” James said.

Aviation Director Pat Klein said he expected six of the eight airlines that serve KCI to sign the agreement by Feb. 25.

Edgemoor managing director Geoffrey Stricker told city council committee members Thursday that between 10 and 15 percent of the design work is complete and that the design team should be able to find cost savings of $140 million. Under questioning from committee members, Stricker said the design team would consider changes to flooring and lighting systems to reduce costs.

“We don’t view this as cuts to anything,” said Steve Sisneros, managing director of airport affairs for Southwest Airlines. “The savings are going to be in design.”

Some council members were hesitant about the agreement.

“I am not one to generally celebrate victory until I understand what the victory is,” said Councilman Scott Wagner.

He noted the $1.5 billion does not include the costs of financing the project and expressed concern that the council did not yet know what kind of contingency fund the project would have if it goes over the new budget.

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