New KCI terminal could have dangerous future

Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 09:58:34-04

A designer of the original KCI Airport said that plans for a new terminal could make the facility more of a target for terrorists.

Ron Hicks helped put the original design plans together in the late 1960s. He said KCI was innovative for its time, which added to the challenges for its design.

"It was a major task," he explained. "There was a lot of thought that went into the facilities by the architects." 

As fliers know, KCI has undergone all sorts of changes since it opened.

Previous story: Consultants review plans to build new terminal at KCI

Security, for one, had to be overhauled shortly after the airport opened its doors due to a rash of plane hijackings in the 1970s.

Now, with the original design and current security measures in place, Hicks said the airport shouldn't be changed.

"Our facility, and the way it's designed, is not terrorist friendly," Hicks said. "This current design is the ideal design for safety."

For the past several years, Kansas City leaders have talked about either renovating the current airport or building a brand new terminal. Airline officials have made it known they prefer the plans for a new terminal, but some fliers continue to stand by the current design and it's convenience to getting to gates.

Last December, costs for the final four future plans for KCI were revealed. The two plans that deal with building a new terminal would cost around $970 million, while renovating two current terminals would cost between $1.04 billion and $1.19 billion.

Part of the new terminal plans involves consolidating the security checkpoints into one centralized area.

Hicks said the centralized security zone could increase the odds of Kansas City seeing an attack similar to the one at a Brussels, Belgium airport earlier this week.

"As we take on more hubs, which normally happens when you have a new airport, you become a more likely target," he explained.

Hicks said having one security area could lead to bigger crowds forming and a better opportunity for terrorists to take lives over the current design.

"Security is currently divided amongst so many different places in the pods, you're only going to be affecting one small area," Hicks said.  "The new designs improve efficiency, but they're not going to beat what we have now with the pod design."

Kansas City Councilman Dan Fowler serves on the airport committee. He said the new terminal plans address current security concerns at KCI, like the close distance from the road to the gates.

"You'll be farther away from the concourses, the flights and the fuel," he explained. 

Fowler also said having a new terminal could help Kansas City stay on top of terrorism trends.

"I think a new terminal would make it easier to adjust to those threats," said Fowler.

Regardless of whether or not a new terminal gets built, Fowler said security will always be a top priority at KCI.

"There's always some crazy person who's going to be out there coming up with some new idea," he explained. "We have our people ready to adapt."

The future of KCI will ultimately be decided by the public. In the meantime, city leaders are still deciding on what plan to put forward for either rebuilding or renovating KCI. Their next meeting on the issue is on April 12.


Tom Dempsey can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter

Connect on Facebook