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Large KCI carriers remain supportive of new KCI terminal

Posted at 4:30 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 11:43:55-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Despite promises from the Kansas City, Missouri, Aviation Department that an agreement was near, the major airlines still have not signed off on the financial details to build a new Kansas City International Airport.

Airline representatives were scheduled to attend a meeting of the KCMO City Council's Airport Committee on Thursday, but Southwest Airlines Spokesman Dan Landson confirmed in a statement to 41 Action News on Wednesday afternoon that they wouldn't attend the meeting:

“Southwest Airlines remains actively involved in conversations to continue moving forward with plans to build a new terminal at the Kansas City International Airport. While we will not be present at Thursday’s city council meeting, we are continually meeting with airport and community stakeholders to ensure Kansas City residents have a world-class airport they can be proud to call their own. We are aware of the project's price points which are being discussed but we are not in a place to comment about it publicly."

Despite not attending the meeting, Southwest and several other airlines - Delta, United, American and Alaska Airlines - submitted a packet to the Airport Committee Thursday saying they are "supportive of the program scope as currently proposed by the Kansas City Aviation Department, Edgemoor Infrastructure..."

Also on Thursday, Allegiant Airlines and Spirit Airlines - two low-cost carriers offering service out of Kansas City - sent letters to the aviation department expressing concern about the increased cost of the terminal.

41 Action News had asked Southwest specifically about the annual $125 million debt service payment on the new terminal, which adds up to $3.75 billion over 30 years or $4.38 billion over 35 years. 

The news that the major airline still hasn't signed a use and lease term sheet was a red flag to some council members. 

"If Southwest isn't happy, no one's happy," said Councilwoman Teresa Loar.

Two weeks ago, the aviation department told council members the airlines were on board with the new agreement. 

"The airlines continue to be supportive and they will provide a statement tomorrow,"  KCI spokesman Joe McBride wrote to 41 Action News on Wednesday. 

The price tag for a new airport, a single-terminal structure to replace the current three-terminal structure that was built in 1972, has nearly doubled since Edgemoor won a contentious bid for the project. 

The memorandum of understanding Edgemoor signed with the city included an exclusivity clause, which expired in September of this year. That means the city is now allowed to engage with other firms on the new terminal.

When reached on Wednesday for comment, a Burns & McDonnell spokeswoman said the company could deliver the terminal at $2.7 billion over 30 years. 

Edgemoor had not returned multiple calls and messages by the time of publication. 

The airlines aren't the only ones who haven't signed off on the project. A source in City Hall confirmed more than 20 minority firms met with the Human Relations Department on Friday with concerns.