NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Kansas City airport officials pitch KCI for transatlantic service to Europe

Screen Shot 2022-08-11 at 5.34.56 PM.png
Posted at 5:59 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2023-01-05 13:40:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With major national and international events on the horizon, officials with the Kansas City, Missouri, Aviation Department are pitching Kansas City International Airport for transatlantic service to London.

According to documents obtained by the KSHB 41 I-Team, those aviation officials pitched KCI and the Kansas City area in a May 2022 meeting with British Airways officials in Bergen, Norway.

British Airways, the country's flag-carrier, is based in London.

E-mails show the city's aviation department making its case to International Airlines Group, which operates several airlines including British Airways.

"To summarize, the time is right for British Airways to launch direct-MCI," Justin Meyer, the city's deputy director of aviation, wrote in one of the e-mails.

On Thursday, the KSHB 41 I-Team spoke to Meyer about the effort to bring international service back to Kansas City.

"The UK is a top destination for travelers flying transatlantic from Kansas City," Meyer said.

Meyer said there are 400 transatlantic passengers a day from Kansas City and it could be more than that if you factor in other nearby states.

In early 2018, the city landed its first transatlantic flight when Icelandair offered service between Kansas City and Reykjavik, Iceland. The service was discontinued in 2019 after two summers in operation.

"Kansas City really sells itself. The World Cup component is really significant," Meyer said when asked how he is selling the city. "To be able to sit down with network planners from international airlines and say Kansas City is a World Cup 2026 host city really raises our visibility in their eyes."

On top of that, KCI's new terminal opens next March.

Meyer said the real focus is landing a connecting hub in Europe.

To do that, Missouri's budget included a transatlantic flight incentive worth $5 million.

The I-Team spoke with Sen. Lauren Arthur (D - Clay County) who was the ranking member on the committee that handles the state's budget.

"I think it's going to have long-lasting impact," Arthur told KSHB 41. "Kansas City is a major economic engine in Missouri and this represents an important investment in our region."

Travelers the I-Team spoke with said they would welcome a nonstop flight to London.

"If you go babystep, put Heathrow first. Heathrow's a big one," June Paraiso-Parks, a traveler said.

"London, yeah, I'd totally jump on that," Ana Delgado, another traveler said.

Airport officials said if things go as planned, a nonstop flight to Europe could be a possibility as soon as summer of 2024.

"I know I want to do a trip to Europe in the near future and direct flights with little kids is probably the best option, so I'm all for that," Delgado said.

"I think it's time," Paraiso-Parks said. "It will help the economy."

We want to hear from you on what resources Kansas City families might benefit from to help us all through the pandemic. If you have five minutes, feel free to fill out this survey to help guide our coverage: KSHB COVID Survey.