Construction on Kansas City’s new international airport is moving forward thanks to an agreement that airlines will pay for increased expenses.
The news came as city council members found common ground with the airlines over the new lower price tag of $1.5 billion which the airlines had sought. That’s a reduction from $1.64 billion. The developer, Edgemoor Infrastructure also believes the lower price is doable.
Concerns arose of what would be lost by cutting $140 million from the budget. Council members expressed concerns about keeping amenities but the architects and airlines believe they can deliver all the amenities planned.
Southwest Airlines Managing Director Steve Sisneros says the carriers will pay the entire construction cost plus financing costs estimated to be about $300 million, and all of the interest on the project over 35 years.
“We lose nothing,” said Geoff Stricker of Edgemoor Infrastructure. “Our plan is: we have further design. And the drawings have more information. What our experience and the airlines’ have all shown over time is when you have better information, you get better pricing. So we are all going to roll up our sleeves and work collaboratively to drive down to the lower number. We are confident we can get there.”
A cost sharing deal is expected to be signed and returned to the city by February 25. Six of the current eight carriers are expected to agree to the nine year use and lease agreement.
Only Allegiant and Frontier, two small discount airlines, opted out of the deal but are expected to pay higher fees and continue operating out of KCI.
The new airport will move Kansas City into the lead of state-of-the-art facilities compared to the largest and most modern airports in the nation. The current KCI design, which is popular among travelers, is insufficient to meet security measures that airports, and TSA are moving towards. Studies show that even with the one terminal design, with the loss of passengers being dropped off right in front of their gate at the curb, the additional time to get to the average gate will be just minutes.
The new design also allows KCI to handle newer planes and provides more bathrooms in gate areas, expanded dining facilities and less hassle going through security.
The city must now revise the development agreement to reflect the new numbers and determine how to provide short term funding to begin demolition of Terminal A, until bonds are sold in April. That’s expected to happen next week.